In addition to cheering on the Michigan Football team to their victory against the Spartans on Saturday, students rallied in support of the Republican ticket during a tailgate event featuring U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R–Va.), the House Majority Leader.
Cantor, whose daughter attends the University, came to Ann Arbor to campaign for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and other Michigan Republicans. As supporters surrounded the congressman to take pictures and shake his hand in the parking lot outside of Crisler Center, Cantor spoke to attendees about the pivotal role Michigan will play in the upcoming presidential election.
In an interview during the event, Cantor said it’s important for students to consider job growth and creation when heading to the polls.
“I think the people here and the students in Ann Arbor understand this is a huge election. We’ve got a big choice to make as to which direction we want to go in as a country,” Cantor said. “How we can create more jobs for students coming out of these fantastic, world class educational institutions like U of M?”
LSA senior Jared Boot, the chair of the University’s chapter of Students for Romney, emphasized the importance of inviting respected names in the Republican Party to Ann Arbor to garner excitement and support for the GOP presidential ticket.
“We probably aren’t going to win Ann Arbor, but we really want to maximize Republican turnout,” Boot said. “And maybe change some minds.”
Matt Frendewey, the director of communications for the Michigan Republican Party and a University alum, distributed T-shirts and other Romney/Ryan gear at the event. He highlighted why he believes Romney should appeal to students on campus.
“More than half of all graduates right now don’t have a job or they’re underemployed and carrying a massive amount of debt,” Frendewey said. “So there are serious issues that college students are facing and coming to terms with … issues that Governor Romney is talking about.”
Boot added that he supported what he described as Romney’s moderate positions on issues such as Pell Grants, student loans and domestic partnerships.
“I’m a moderate Republican,” Boot said. “That resonates with young Republicans because young Republicans aren’t necessarily as conservative as older Republicans” in terms of social issues.
The Students for Romney tailgate also included supporters and volunteers for the campaign to elect Republican Dan Horning to the University’s Board of Regents. Horning also hosted a tailgate nearby. Boot discussed the close relationship the College Republicans have with Horning, who perviously served as a regent from 1995-2002. He also described his plans to curb University spending and fight union influence, as well as increase the number of in-state students at the University.
Boot discussed how important it is to campaign for Republican candidates since Romney is narrowing his margins with President Barack Obama in the polls in Michigan. He added that if both Republican candidates for regent are elected, the GOP will control the board.
Ann Arbor volunteers phone banked after the tailgate on behalf of Romney. Boot noted that despite Ann Arbor’s liberal reputation, he plans to lure out as many Republicans as possible for this election season.
“I feel like on campus it’s very homogenous with political ideology and people might not feel like they’d be accepted,” Boot said. “A lot of people on campus are closet Republicans and we want to get them out of the closet.”
Correction appended:A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Jared Boot as the chair of the University’s chapter of College Republicans.