Portraits: Flying the red flag in blue waters

Terra Molengraff/Daily
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By Zach Bergson, Deputy Magazine Editor
Published November 6, 2012

Name: Rachael Jankowski, Chair of the University's chapter of College Republicans
Hometown: Shelby Township, Mich.
School and Year: LSA senior
Concentration: Political Science and History

What has College Republicans been doing leading up to the election?

We’ve been getting out the vote for Romney. Going door to door in Washtenaw County and making tons of phone calls — we just made over 10,000 calls. We’ve been having speakers come to campus who are running in the local and state races. We had (U.S. House Majority Leader) Eric Cantor come in and tailgate with us, and Ann Romney was in the state recently so we sent some people there.

Were you guys the one who brought the “Cain Train” here?

Students for Healthcare Freedom did that, which is another group that I’m the president of. Herman Cain came with the College Truth Tour and came out and educated the students about the economy.

Did you meet him?

Yes! I got a pretty sweet picture with him and got to go backstage and introduce him.

There were some hecklers in the audience and he was talking about how America is the greatest country in the world and someone was like “No, it’s not!” and he went on this rant for a minute saying: “If you don’t think America is the greatest country in the world, then get out of this room!” People were jumping up and getting really excited. Seeing him be so passionate about America was really cool.

How did you get involved in College Republicans? Have you always been passionate about conservative politics?

I was Republican-leaning all of my life. I guess I was raised that way, but coming here made me more Republican, shockingly. I think it’s because I wanted to figure out my own path and educate myself on issues, rather than being fed it. I felt like my professors weren’t giving unbiased positions on things, so I started researching and looking things up and going to conferences in D.C. Then I got involved in College Republicans right away freshman year, but I wasn’t too involved until last year.

Last year I wanted to work with other groups, so I became the coalitions chair and that was basically working on outreach with other like-minded Republican groups. And then I was elected chair of College Republicans last year.

How do you spend your time on the weekends?

The bars are my way of relaxing, I guess. I love football and basketball as well, so I go to those games. I also like to travel a lot.

Did you study abroad?

I never studied abroad, but I plan on going to Europe this summer after I graduate to give myself a nice present after school. I travel to D.C. a lot and California.

Do you have any idea what you want to do after you’re done traveling?

After this summer I want to go to law school, so I’m applying to schools right now. I hear back early next semester — it’s going to be nerve-wracking — but we’ll see.

When you wake up Wednesday morning and you turn on the TV, who won the election and why did they win, in your opinion?

Mitt Romney is going to win, because Americans realize that we can’t afford four more years of what we’ve had. I think when people become educated about it and they realize what the president has done over the past four years to help the economic catastrophe that he inherited, they’re going to realize that he hasn’t really owned up to it and hasn’t turned it around. I think they’ll realize that the unemployment rate is too high and it’s higher now than it was when he was elected. He hasn’t done enough.

Conversely, you wake up Wednesday morning and President Obama won. What does that mean for the Republican party, specifically, College Republicans?

I think it would be a time for Republicans in Congress and everyone to re-evaluate what they’ve done over the past four years, and realize that its time to work together to actually solve the problem, rather than punting the football down the road.

Are you saying the House Republicans should work with Obama?

Yeah. Not to compromise your beliefs at all, but I think President Obama needs to sit down with the Republicans in Congress and say that we do need to work together to solve this, because this is bigger than any political party. We need to work together to solve the debt problem and the employment problem. We need to pass a budget — that’s probably the biggest thing — because not having a budget passed is a scary thing.

I also think its time that we really sit down and focus on what needs to be changed, and what we can do to change it. It’s going to be a time, I think, of renewal and new beginnings. No one should compromise their beliefs at all, but there needs to be more cohesiveness and working together.

It sounds like you guys have really thought about what’s next if he loses. Do you expect him to lose?

I don’t think we’ve really thought about it. We think he has a really good chance of winning. But, you know, in the end it’s about the United States of America, it’s not about any political party or who wins.

This is a very liberal campus. What’s your advice to incoming freshmen who have conservative views?

Believe that there are Republicans on this campus. People seem to think that they’re the only one but they’re not. There are hundreds of College Republicans on this campus and you just have to come find us. We are here and we can be their outlet in what can sometimes be a hostile environment for Republicans.