Conservative students descend on Washington to discuss, defend their beliefs

Jackie Valley

Five members of the Kent State College Republicans joined conservatives, including Rudy Giuliani and Ann Coulter, at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. last week.

Elizabeth Eisaman, president of College Republicans, said the conference – an annual conference for the exchange of conservative ideas among students – attracted its largest crowd ever with about 6,000 people.

At the conference, Coulter made news headlines when she used the word “faggot” to refer to Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards.

Matt Adelman, treasurer of College Republicans, said Coulter’s remark faced a mixed crowd – about half the people in the room at the time seemed shocked, and the other half just laughed.

“It definitely caught a significant number of people off guard,” he said, adding it was mentioned in the news for the remainder of the conference, but attendees no longer addressed it.

Eisaman said the conference gave members an opportunity to “take our beliefs and try to defend them,” in addition to interacting with other college groups from across the country.

Speakers included well-known conservatives, such as Sean Hannity, Tom Delay and Newt Gingrich, and one speaker who hits closer to home – Mike Adams, the University of North Carolina-Wilmington professor who accused Kent State professor Julio “Assad” Pino of being linked to a Web site promoting terrorism on his online blog last week.

Eisaman said Adams used Pino and Kent State as an example of increasingly liberally slanted college campuses in the United States.

Other topics for speeches, panels and debates covered a wide range of current issues including global warming, civil liberties, immigration and the Iraq war, she said.

Eisaman said the conference prompted civil discussions currently facing the country.

“It was a great experience to learn about dealing with people and not getting angry with people who don’t agree with you,” she said.

The following data represents the results of 1,705 registrants who participated in a straw poll at the conference about who should be the Republican nominee for president in 2008:

  • 34 percent favored Rudy Giuliani
  • 30 percent favored Mitt Romney
  • 30 percent favored Newt Gingrich
  • 24 percent favored Sam Brownback
  • 20 percent favored John McCain

Adelman said he was disappointed in the straw poll results based on the conservative nature of the conference.

“I was very surprised with the straw poll results,” he said. “The straw poll comes out and you have two non-conservative, liberal candidates on top.”

Adelman said the poll results made him rethink the importance money and popularity play in politics.

Even so, Adelman said the conference was a valuable experience.

“It was really interesting to hear a bunch of leaders within the conservative movement give their perspective on where the conservative movement is going,” he said.

Contact student politics reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].