Feb 12, 2008

Liberty hosts meet and greet at CPAC

by Mattison Brooks
Liberty University sent students to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C. again this year with over 100 students and 20 staff in attendance.

The conference featured over 100 exhibitions and booths, including the Washington Times, the National Rifle Association and Accuracy in the Media. The Liberty students in attendance weighed in on their favorites, noting the friendly atmosphere. “I visited almost all the booths,” sophomore Tasha Haug said. “It was very interesting and extremely informative. Everyone was very nice and very helpful.”

The Republican presidential candidates were also present and spoke at the conference, with many of their followers there to support them, spending the morning handing out stickers and posters and rallying support behind their favored candidate. GOP nominees John McCain, Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney were present this year, and each candidate took time to speak about their respective beliefs and platforms to those in attendance.

McCain talked about how he would succeed at being the conservative Republican the party needed while still maintaining an “active and strong foreign policy.” Ron Paul talked about his policy to limit government size and spending and the need to “stabilize the economy by reducing the amount of money being printed.”

Romney stressed the need to conserve family values and “protect America from the threats of cultural warfare” from both within and outside the country’s borders.

The biggest moment of the speeches came with Romney’s announcement of his withdrawal from the race for the White House. “I simply cannot allow my campaign to be part of a Clinton and Obama win,” Romney said. He went on to say that he will be suspending his campaign and wants his followers to support the candidate who shares his stance on major issues, such as family, foreign policy and economy.

Among the students interviewed, there was an overall sense of satisfaction with which major issues were discussed. However, freshman Stephens Schaefer noted that the ambiguity of some of the candidate’s stance on pro-life and abortion was frustrating. “I think that everyone says whether they are pro-life or not, but that’s not specific enough,” Schaefer said. “They need to state whether or not they will be against abortion and try to reverse it. Abortion is a big issue to me.”

Students from Liberty who supported Romney’s campaign expressed disappointment over his withdrawal from the race but said they will now look to who may be the best remaining candidate. “I was pretty disappointed,” senior Reagan Starner said. “But I am looking at McCain, because of his stance on the war on terror. Out of the three remaining candidates, he has the strongest platform on fighting terrorism worldwide.”

One attendee from Liberty also weighed in on how they thought the other candidates did in their respective speeches. Freshman James McClure noted that McCain’s speech was meant to show that the Republicans need to be united and that McCain is conservative enough to stand for the values of those concerned with his record on social issues.

“The alternative, which are the Democrats at this point in McCain’s eyes, as well as the party’s, is totally unacceptable,” McClure said. “So, I think he wanted to use his speech to get the party on his side by talking about his conservative beliefs.”

There was also support for Ron Paul among the Liberty students at CPAC. Paul, who spoke at last week’s convocation on Friday, is currently in third place in the polls. One supporter of Paul is senior Rachel Lee, who admired that Paul’s beliefs have not changed despite the odds his campaign has faced.

“There was a consensus to compromise your beliefs and vote for the person who is most electable and able to win, not to vote on principle,” Lee said. “That is why I like Ron Paul. He hasn’t changed his views, and his views were the only ones who adequately matched up with what I believe.” Contact Mattison Brooks at embrooks@liberty.edu.
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