September 14, 2007

GOP Faithful Get in Gear for 2008 Election

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“We don’t believe in indoctrination,” said Chair­man of the Cornell College Republicans Ah­med Salem ’08 as he spoke about the liberal tendencies of Cornell professors and the challenges conservative students face on Cornell’s left-leaning campus.
In light of the upcoming presidential primaries, the organization’s focus is on raising awareness and political involvement on campus. Salem stressed the importance of intellectual and political diversity to his organization.
Salem is an example of how increased political awareness can precipitate change. He explained that he identified with the Democratic Party his first two years at Cornell until his studies in economics and greater political consciousness shifted his views.
The College Republi­cans held a voter registration drive in commemoration of Sept. 11 on Tuesday and are planning other events for later in the semester. They will also be helping out with the New York State presidential primaries next term and are discussing the possibility of campaigning in New Hampshire or Iowa before the important primaries in those states.
The group has not chosen to unify behind a specific candidate. It is cific candidate. It is unlikely that they will come to a consensus before the primaries begin early next year, given the diversity of opinions among group members regarding the Republican candidates’ varied platforms.
While some members of the group hold economic concerns above all else, others elevate the importance of social issues such as abortion, gay rights and family values.
Salem explained that the Cornell Republicans are more unified in their desire for a candidate with a strong stance on the war on terror.
“Terrorism must be fought from within and without,” Salem explained. “[The College Republicans want to see a candidate] that is going to be taking all measures to ensure the security of the United States, whether it be through diplomacy or, when necessary, utilizing actual military force.”
The group has been solicited to back a number of campaigns, including that of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose candidacy has sparked debate among College Republicans. At this point, however, it is up to individuals to decide whom they will campaign for.
Salem was enthusiastic about incorporating a more diverse group of students into the Republican network, especially the black student community.
On Sept. 25, the College Republicans will be hosting a discussion on Conservatism in the Black Community, discussing why minorities and especially African Americans have not identified with the Republican Party.
Spearheading this effort is Carol Glenn ’08, a black student who had initial reservations about joining a group where she felt she would be perceived as different.
“I am trying to get black people specifically to consider the Republican arguments and possibly candidates,” Glenn said. “With this event, we are trying to set the stage for people to change their minds and actually get black conservatives., of which there are many on campus, to try and identify with the party.”
Glenn cited abortion, the state of the U.S. education system, the War in Iraq and, most importantly, economic policies as the issues most relevant to her in the upcoming election. Glenn favors presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.
“I think that he really understands the business side of things and will know how to deal with China and India and the new economies that are emerging,” she explained. “Romney is most likely to be the smart fiscal conservative.”
The importance of conservative fiscal policy was echoed by fellow College Republican Rebecca Stein ’10. Although she has more socially liberal views, she favors candidates with strong conservative economic policies.
Stein, who supports Guiliani’s candidacy, said, “I would still support a candidate that was more [socially] conservative because … I’m not as driven socially as I am by our country’s economic policies.”
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