College GOP rallies behind McCain-Palin ticket

Former Democrat headlines Tuesday's speeches, as Republicans try to regain the spotlight for their convention

Steffi Lau, assistant city editor, diversity beat writer
Daily Trojan
September 3, 2008

The Republican National Convention continued in earnest Tuesday night, after being overshadowed earlier in the week by Hurricane Gustav and the news that vice presidential pick Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's teenage daughter was pregnant.

Members of the USC College Republicans, gathering on campus last night for their first meeting of the year, said they plan to campaign for Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) in the weeks leading up to the election.

Allison Huff, co-chair of USC College Republicans, said that while Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) might be popular among college students, she hopes students at USC will evaluate McCain fairly.

"I feel that it's more popular right now for youth to be Obama's supporters," Huff said. "But when you dig really deep into the issues, McCain really stands out."

Huff said that she doesn't feel Obama supporters are as informed.

"I don't think that a lot of Obama's supporters know what the change they want is and how that change can be achieved," she said.

The convention, held in St. Paul, Minn., featured a lineup Tuesday night that included Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), First Lady Laura Bush and President George W. Bush, who was unable to attend the convention because of the hurricane but instead spoke via satellite.

Lieberman's speech was particularly anticipated. Just eight years ago he was a Democrat and was chosen as his Party's vice presidential nominee. He then ran and won as an Independent in his 2006 Senate re-election bid.

In his speech on Tuesday night, however, Lieberman stressed country over party, and urged voters to evaluate John McCain - Lieberman's close friend - based on his own merits, not his party's.

"What, after all, is a Democrat like me doing at a Republican convention like this?" he said. "Well, I'll tell you what: I'm here to support John McCain because country matters more than party."

Former USC College Democrats President Timothy Fehr said Lieberman's attempt to cast himself as a Democrat speaking to voters was misleading.

"It's pretty clear that Lieberman is so far outside the mainstream that our party chose to leave him and basically kicked him out of the party," Fehr said. "I don't think that he can claim to speak for Democrats-any Democrat."

Lieberman also hailed Palin as a "leader we can count on to help John shake up Washington."

Recently, Palin has faced media scrutiny after word broke that her 17-year-old daughter Bristol is five-months pregnant.

Many of the College Republicans said they didn't think the news of the pregnancy would hurt McCain's campaign.

"For social conservatives, it shows that she has a family, that she is a regular person," said Alan Dana, a fifth year architecture major and the Los Angeles region co-chair of California Students for McCain. "She's been dealing with it responsibly."

Junior Ben Myers, chairman of USC Students for McCain as well as of USC College Republicans, did not seem to find it an issue either.

"I don't think anyone's going to care because [Bristol Palin] is going to marry the boy and have the baby," Myers said. "And at the end of the day, that's a good, strong, pro-life, pro-family move."

Back at the convention, Bush appeared in a giant screen in front of the audience, saying that McCain was ready to lead, though only after saying hello to his parents who were present at the convention.

"When the debates have ended and all the ads have run and it is time to vote, Americans will look closely at the judgment, the experience and the policies of the candidates and they will cast their ballots for the McCain-Palin ticket," Bush said.

Dana also approved of the new ticket.

"The choice of Palin has really rallied conservatives to McCain who were otherwise thinking of not voting for him. It's a strong ticket now because the party has reunited. It's a maverick ticket. They're ready to challenge the status quo."

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