AU College Republicans attended this year’s Conservative Political Action Committee to help counter what they see as a dominant liberal message on campus.
“It’s a huge draw for students, students who feel that they’re only getting one point of view on campuses that they consider to be very liberal,” said Stephen Laudone, president of AU College Republicans.
Laudone, who was accompanied by about six other AU College Republicans Feb. 12, believes conservative students on campus tend to be less vocal about their political ideology than their liberal counterparts.
Courtney Stefan, a junior in the School of Communication, has gone to CPAC for the past three years and enjoys hearing an opposite viewpoint.
“It’s nice because it’s three days straight of an opinion completely different than you hear on AU’s campus most of the time,” Stefan said.
Stefan said a highlight of the conference is seeing big name speakers, especially potential presidential candidates.
Laudone said CPAC gives AU students the unique opportunity to be up close to politics “in their own backyard.”
“All of sudden politics is real because they’re [famous politicians] in the room, all of a sudden all these things that interest you are there,” Laudone said. “You’re a baseball’s throw away from these great speakers or shaking hands with Newt Gingrich while ‘Eye of the Tiger’ is playing.”
Students from D.C. and around the country gathered at CPAC to take advantage of the political action.
There was a strong youth presence in the room.
In the Marriott ballroom, when asked what attendees were born between 1978 and 2002, nearly half the room raised their hands.
Some of the AU College Republicans questioned the legitimacy of this year’s straw poll that said Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, is most likely to be Republican presidential nominee.
More than 3,500 attendees filled out the survey of the 11,000 total at the conference this past weekend, according to the Washington Post. Paul received about 30 percent of the vote. He also won the straw poll last year.
The group of AU College Republicans at the conference started chanting, “He can’t win!”
Bobby Trivett, vice president of College Republicans, doesn’t believe the poll’s results are accurate.
He said Paul and third place winner former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson have no chance of winning the 2012 Republican nomination.
Laudone also dismissed the legitimacy of Paul’s win.
“[Libertarians] make up a very visible and vocal portion of CPAC, but they tend to show up during parts of CPAC, when Ron Paul and Gary Johnson are speaking, and when the straw polls go up.”
The 2011 conference stirred up controversy over GOProud, a gay conservative group, co-sponsoring the event.
Kevin Deanna, who received his master’s degree from the School of International Service last year, founded Youth for Western Civilization, which used to have an AU chapter.
YWC displayed a T-shirt at their booth that said, “straight pride.”
Deanna said though that gay marriage was not YWC’s main issue and that if they had a problem with GOProud, they wouldn’t be there.