Students Hear GOP Presidential Candidates Speak at Conference

By John Filcik


Twenty-six Cedarville students traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held from Feb. 9-11. The trip, sponsored by the College Republicans, exposed those who attended to the latest in the conservative movement. It included speeches by three of the four GOP presidential candidates.

Rachel Steetle, chair of the College Republicans, called the trip a success.

“I didn’t know how politically-minded everyone going was and if they’d enjoy talking about politics from nine to five every day, but everyone really enjoyed it. They loved being there and meeting other students who were also interested in politics.”

The yearly CPAC conference drew over 11,000 individuals from across the nation, many of who were college students. The conference, held in a hotel in the city, has been noted as having the vibe of a college campus.

College students come to hear the biggest names in politics speak, make connections with like-minded college students and visit booths in the exhibition halls run by the nation’s top conservative groups. Steetle said the importance of young voters can’t be overestimated.

“College students were obviously very important to President Obama’s election in 2008, and that’s why this year, we need to get more college students riled up about the Republican candidate,” Steetle said. “From the young voters’ perspective, this is our future and so this election is most important to us.”

Students who attended CPAC were able to hear speeches from influential conservative celebrities like Herman Cain, Ann Coulter and Marco Rubio, as well as three of the four remaining presidential candidates. Only the stalwarts willing to wait in line for an extended time were able to hear Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich speak in front of a packed house. Each candidate tried to bring their message home to the conservative base of the Republican Party.

“It was really great to see them in person rather than just on TV,” David Wright, Cedarville student, said. “Hearing them firsthand helped me to get a better sense of some of their specific views and policies. It made it more personal.”

The weekend was capped off by a speech from 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Many Cedarville attendees cited her speech as the highlight of the weekend.

“She was far better in person than I imagined,” Jen Vinciguerra, another CPAC attendee from Cedarville, said.

The weekend concluded with a bus ride back to Cedarville, capping off a trip that was hardly a relaxing vacation for most students who attended. Instead it was a weekend chock-full of activities, stimulating discussion and a fun time. Steetle was pleased with the trip as a whole.

“I’m just so happy with the turnout,” Steetle said, “and how happy everyone was.”

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