Collegeville course takes close look at candidates

We plan to share their perceptions of the 2000 election campaign

By Randy Krebs,  Editorial Page Editor
St. Cloud Times
November 21, 1999

Al Gore and George W. Bush

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COLLEGEVILLE — You might think that political junkies, stand-up comedians and overexcited journalists are the only people paying close attention to the 2000 presidential race at this point.

But there are 17 students at St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict who are scrutinizing everything from sound bites to autobiographies when it comes to the 2000 presidential race.

They are enrolled in a class known as “Psychological Assessment of Presidential Candidates,” the goal of which is for them to analyze the politicians’ personalities and project how they might act if elected.

You, as a Times reader, will get to see those assessments on this page, ideally every Sunday until the election.

The students will be using media reports, autobiographies and anything else they can find to shape their personality assessments for instructor Aubrey Immelman.

The students then will use those profiles for predicting candidates’ leadership skills and potential performance if they were to become president.

About the class

The 17 class members include five seniors, four juniors and nine sophomores. Their majors range from undecided to biology.

While most selected one of the major presidential candidates to profile, a few are analyzing other politicians, including New York’s Rudolph Giuliani and our own Jesse Ventura.

Generally, the students will be working in pairs for their projects.

Two students already wrote a piece that appeared in the Nov. 7 Times. Senior Stephanie Anderson and junior Holly Berreau had chosen to follow Republican candidate Elizabeth Dole.

So when Dole dropped out of the race, Anderson and Berreau put their knowledge together and came up with a detailed analysis of her candidacy and withdrawal speech. They also projected that her personality could drive her to seek to be vice president some day.

That’s just an example of what the students plan to provide so you can improve your understanding and make a better-informed vote next November.

About the instructor

Students in the class have a top-notch teacher in Aubrey Immelman.

Immelman, a native of South Africa, has gained a national reputation for his personality profiles of politicians. He’s appeared on MSNBC and been featured in many national articles.

He’s even gained acclaim in political circles, receiving a nice write-up in the Aug. 19 edition of The Hill, a newspaper targeting those who live, work and breathe Capitol Hill issues.

That article by St. John’s alumnus Albert Eisele pointed to Immelman’s study of President Clinton in 1996. In it, Immelman predicted Clinton “would likely continue to display his driving ambition, supreme self-confidence and personal charisma,” but would be “troubled by ethical questions and lapses of judgment.”

Then we found out about Monica Lewinsky. Enough said.

One of Immelman’s many goals for the students is to give them “the ability to evaluate the impact of personality variables on leadership style and role performance in politics.”

What that means for Times subscribers is a chance to read about what makes these politicians tick and how that will relate to the possibility of leading a nation.