NEW YORK – They’ve flirted with Ben Affleck, followed Willie Nelson on stage and been in high-profile photo shoots, which would seem to make them part of the Hollywood crowd.

But when Vanessa and Alex Kerry took the stage Sunday at MTV’s Video Music Awards, they were met with boos so overwhelming that Vanessa, 27, discreetly clutched her sister. Alex, 30, with index finger to lips, implored the Miami crowd to “shhhh” for their get-out-and-vote message.

Then came the boos for Barbara and Jenna Bush, President Bush’s 22-year-old twin daughters, who appeared on videotape with a similar message for the Generation Y-filled audience.

The crowd offered no mercy – although, through the misleading magic of television, the boos appeared more intended for John Kerry’s daughters than the Bush twins.

A day after the awards show, young voters interviewed outside the Republican National Convention and political experts agreed that the Bush and Kerry women were poorly received because young people are tired of politics intruding where they don’t think it belongs.

“I would say that, overall, young people are very turned off to politics, and that’s why you see an event like the VMAs trying to reach young people to vote,” said Jack Schnirman, a director for the youth-driven, nonpartisan United Leaders group. That the Kerry and Bush daughters were jeered appears to be “a condemnation of politics overall, not either candidate.”

“This generation volunteers at record rates but doesn’t feel that politics is a way to change the world,” Schnirman said. “Hopefully, we can show them a politics that’s dynamic, courageous and idealistic.”

Outside Madison Square Garden, where the convention is being held, Brian Frank, 27, said Monday that the political involvement of the Bush and Kerry daughters seems to be a shallow attempt to attract 18-year-old males – those hormonal teenagers “who maybe fancy” well-dressed young women.

“It’s not something that’s going to have a tremendous amount of immediate appeal” to Generation Y as a whole demographic, said Frank, a resident of the San Francisco area who was holding a “got democracy?” poster near Seventh Avenue and 34th Street. He insisted young adults, increasingly savvy to politics and gimmicks, are waking up “like they did in the ’60s.”

Still, the candidates’ daughters are doing what they can to get votes. On Monday, Jenna and Barbara Bush appeared at a women’s event in New York City, while Vanessa and Alex Kerry continued a string of college visits and broadcast appearances.

The candidates’ children may put “a younger face, more energetic and attractive” on the campaigns, “but it won’t swing many voters,” said Matt Sullivan, 20, a Republican visiting Manhattan this week from New Jersey.

He said the number of young people who vote is slipping because of laziness, the demise of civics classes in public schools and “a lack of appreciation for voting rights.”

Between 1972 and 2000, the number of 18- to 24-year-old voters dropped 13 percent, according to the Maryland-based Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

Alison Aikele, 20, the communications director for the College Republican National Committee, said the booing at the VMAs “shows that audiences really want to get to the issues of the campaign.”

She said the media “brand students maybe as not as intelligent or not as savvy as they really are. But I think students are absolutely underestimated.”



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