By Tui Rademaker, Daily Staff Reporter
Published October 30, 2012
Members of the University’s chapter of College Republicans crowded into a Mason Hall classroom on Tuesday night to discuss plans for the final week of campaigning leading into Election Day, as recent polls show a constantly narrowing margin between the two presidential candidates.
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About 30 members of the group attended the meeting, which featured visits from Michigan Supreme Court candidate Colleen O’Brien and Republican University regent candidates Dan Horning and Robert Steele. Attendees also discussed way to advocate for the Republican ticket both nationally and locally.
In an Oct. 24 Fox 2 News Detroit poll of likely Michigan voters, President Obama led Romney by only 46.92 percent to 46.56 percent, a difference well within the 2.93 percent margin of error.
Horning, who previously served as a regent from 1995 to 2002, told the College Republicans that this election has the potential to influence the political reasoning of the University’s Board of Regents, which he said has been liberally slanted for too long.
“The liberal agenda (on the board) … is not looking out for you,” Horning said. “We can’t do any of (our great ideas) unless we have a Republican-controlled board that stands for fiscal sanity.”
Steele echoed Horning’s message and emphasized the importance of heightened fiscal responsibility and reforming the use and dependence of state appropriation funds. Steele also suggested an academic plan that he said would heighten awareness of American values.
“My suggestion is that if you have to take four semesters of a foreign language, then you should have to take two semesters of the language of American freedom which includes one semester on the founding documents,” Steele said. “And then you have a semester on some general economic studies … about the role of free enterprise and free markets.”
O’Brien, currently an Oakland County Circuit judge, spoke to the importance of the Supreme Court election and urged students to vote for her and fellow conservative candidate, Stephen Markman, a sitting justice.
She said she and Markman have a combined total of 50 years of judicial experience, compared to the 13 years of experience boasted by their opponents.
“We need stability in our laws,” O’Brien said. “That’s why I ran for judge in 1998 and that’s why I’m running for the Supreme Court … If you don’t have consistency and stability and judges are kind of doing their own thing and making their own laws, then people aren’t treated fairly because the laws are applied unequally.”
O’Brien urged the College Republicans to utilize Facebook and other forms of social media to campaign for conservative candidates. She said spreading awareness is particularly crucial this year in local and state races given that the majority of voters focus their attention and knowledge on the presidential race.
Business sophomore Elena Brennan, the external vice chair of the College Republicans, said that on a generally liberal campus, Republican students must work especially hard to gain student support. In the coming week, the College Republicans will continue to sponsor Diag days aimed at promoting conservative politicians at the local, national and state level, and distribute flyers on campus.
She added that the College Republicans also hope to be especially active in door-to-door campaigning and making phone calls in the next week.
“I think that a lot of students, especially who come from conservative backgrounds and are conservative, are scared to kind of come out and say that they are and get involved on campus, and that’s why we’re here,” Brennan said. “From the top down, it’s a liberal environment so we’re constantly combating that.”
Engineering freshman Justin Lopas said while he has chosen to support Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney because of the state of the economy, though the candidate was not his first choice for the Republican nomination.
“The spending and just the government control … is just too much and I think Romney will turn that tide a little bit,” Lopas said. “Romney is much better than Obama in terms of economic policies and I’m fairly moderate on social policies, so I like Romney for that as well.”
Lopas expressed concern over what he believes is a lack of political interest and involvement, noting that he has friends who don’t plan to vote.
Brennan concurred, and said she believes students are hesitant to appear overzealous in their support of candidates.
“I would love to see more (student interest in the election) — a lot of the student body is sort of apathetic to the political process.”