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Yale backs a new old boy

THE LEAVES have already turned throughout New England and on this prestigious campus a majority of students and academics have also switched and are deserting one former Yale undergraduate, George Herbert Walker Bush (BA, class of 1948), in favour of another, Bill Clinton (Law School class of 1973).

For President Bush, who was president of the exclusive society, Yale's Skull and Bones, and then captain of the college baseball team, it is a galling moment since in Connecticut he has one of his three residences. His mother lives in Greenwich, where he was once a pupil at the Greenwich Country Day School.

Yale is in little doubt about who the next US president should be, although an economics professor has a mathematical model which predicts a Bush victory. Troubling some who have made dollars 5 bets on Governor Clinton's election is the fact that the professor's formula has failed only once in the past 19 elections.

This Ivy League college is the pre-eminent breeding ground for political leaders in the US and, if Ross Perot does not win the election, the university will be sending yet another president to the White House.

A place of 13th-century Gothic buildings built in the 1930s, Yale is a crucible for would-be presidents and politicians, diplomats and Supreme Court justices. Clarence Thomas, the Supreme Court justice, and his accuser Anita Hill both went to Yale Law school as did the former president, Gerald Ford.

All the Democratic candidates who went through the primaries went to Yale Law School. Paul Tsongas, Jerry Brown and Bill Clinton studied at Yale, it was in the Law Library that Bill and Hillary Clinton first met. Both have since been back to Yale while on the campaign trail.

She is remembered at Yale today for being the brighter of the two for taking notes for him while he was away running George McGovern's political campaign in Texas. Soon after meeting they reportedly began living together on the campus, which was going through a turbulent period of anti-war activism and Black Panther trials.

Despite the fact that Yale has thrown up the two leading candidates for the presidency, David Leonhardt, the 19-year- old editor of the Yale Daily News, the college newspaper, is disconsolate about the calibre of candidates for the presidency. 'I am not impressed with seeing them and it does not make me proud to be a Yale student,' he said.

He is not impressed with Governor Clinton, because of his use of 'racial code words', aimed at the white middle class or with President Bush because of the economic fiasco during his term as president. But Mr Leonhardt is especially troubled by Governor Clinton's approach to race. 'Whites see themselves as the middle class,' he says, 'and you notice that Clinton never talks about the underclass, the true poor.'

Apart from being the only newspaper read by many of its 10,000 subscribers, the Yale Daily News (founded in 1878), appears in a city with the highest infant mortality rate in the nation. New Haven, along with two other Connecticut cities Hartford and Bridgeport, is among the 10 poorest cities in the US.

With crime and poverty sweeping the city, the university is building ever higher walls around its inner-city campus. Students are given keys and special panic buttons have been placed along the streets to alert the police if students are attacked or threatened.

As the recession bites in this corner of Connecticut, the university is cutting itself off from the city, with the result that its students, the new political leaders of the US, are increasingly white and wealthy.

'It costs dollars 40,000 ( pounds 25,500) to get a Yale education and even if you get a college loan, it has to be paid back some time,' said Mr Leonhardt. 'So what's happening is that they're recycling the same people into public life and that doesn't help a country in economic decline.'