By Steve Zoski, Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 1, 2012
Among attendees rallying for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan at this year’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. were University students who made the trip to volunteer and show support for the GOP ticket.
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LSA sophomore Gabriel Leaf attended the convention on Tuesday and Wednesday as part of the Tampa Bay volunteer committee. Leaf, a member of the University’s chapter of College Republicans and a volunteer for the Romney campaign, didn't go as a representative of the College Republicans, but he said he met college students from around the country while at the convention.
Leaf said the speakers he saw — which included Ryan, Mitt's wife Ann Romney, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice — were “fantastic.”
“I thought they were very exciting to watch ... a lot of atmosphere, they made a really good connection with the audience and they had that nice personable style to them that I very much liked,” Leaf said.
Leaf said Ryan spoke to the student audience, discussing the challenges of paying off student debt and finding jobs after graduation.
Though he had to forego a few welcome week activities, Leaf said he was glad he attended the convention.
“It was something I was willing to make the time for to go down there because it was such a large event and something that was very important to me,” Leaf said.
And Leaf said that the week of festivities in Tampa excited the crowd and encouraged him to campaign for Romney and Ryan leading into November's general election.
“Everyone was very excited for Romney/Ryan, a lot people very much support him, they’re just excited for more change and going to a better general direction from where we are right now,” he said.
Leaf said he would recommend attending political events like the convention to all students, even those who aren’t staunchly Republican.
“I was very grateful to go and I would recommend it to anyone who may be interested in politics,” Leaf said.
Leaf added that the performances, which included a musical set by Detroit-native Kid Rock, helped imbue a lively atmosphere, which was paired with a social media emphasis throughout the convention. Attendees could use a Twitter hashtag to see their Tweets aggregated on a screen to promote ongoing interaction between convention goers.
Erik Skyhar, a senior at University of San Diego, attended the convention to work for the Spirit of Liberty Foundation, a San Diego-based non-profit organization that raises money for military causes. He worked at a kiosk where people could electronically sign their name on the Declaration of Independence and have it e-mailed to them.
“We were able to have all five Romney sons sign it … and also Juan Williams from Fox News, and former California Governor Pete Wilson,” Skyhar said.
Skyhar said there was a good turnout of college students, which met his expectations.
“(The students) were all very nice, so we all had a common bond there because it’s not common for college-aged folks to be at these events, they definitely stood out, but there was a number of them,” Skyhar said.