College Republicans — at any college campus — are a unique breed; they tuck their shirts in, they (say they) don’t use drugs, and they’ve somehow managed to avoid the cliche brand of idealistic college-age liberalism that consumes so many young students who think they’re going to change the world.
Some call their Conservative leanings at such a young age heartless. Others call them nerds. I call them assholes — because at last night’s presidential debate at Hofstra University, I got straight-up ditched by a pack of college Republicans, and was forced to spend the rest of the evening listening to politicians (from both parties) explain why their candidate clearly won the debate.
I went to last night’s debate with no agenda. Armed with media credentials, I figured I’d just show up and try to find some quirky angle that would give our readers a different perspective on a story that’s getting told by every news outlet in the Western world.
After wandering around the campus for about an hour, I bumped into a bunch of kids, each of whom was wearing a suit. Then it dawned on me: these are college Republicans — and what would be funnier than watching a presidential debate with a bunch of college Republicans who are all wearing business suits for no apparent reason.
Without knowing for sure — admittedly basing my assumption that these kids were college Republicans on nothing more than their appearance — I asked one. Sure as shit, he told me “yes, yes we are Hofstra’s College Republicans.”
So, I asked if they’d mind if I watched the debate with them to get their reactions. They agreed — despite the perception of the publication for which I work as being somewhat left-leaning.
“We’re gonna watch it in one of the residence halls, if you’re OK with that,” one of the CRs told me.
“Even better,” I thought.
As we walked to the residence hall, the group of about 10 CRs discussed exactly what they’d say to the person at the front desk — it appeared as though they were hatching some sort of scheme to get people into the building who weren’t allowed to be there (the rascals!).
We chatted about their extra-curricular activities — one works for the state Republican Party, another for a congressman, etc.
When we got to the building, they again rehearsed what they’d say to the person at the desk. They all got in without a problem. Me, however, not so much.
Despite having undergone a Secret Service background check to obtain press credentials. campus security wouldn’t let me into the building.
As the CRs marched into the residence hall — each reciting the same line they’d rehearsed on the way over — the girl at the desk told me I wasn’t allowed.
One of the CRs told me they’d relocate to a place where I could gain access — a common viewing area
at one of the campus’ student centers. I just had to wait a minute at the door. Another CR even gave me his business card and told me to text him once he gathered the others who’d already gone upstairs unaware that I wasn’t granted access.
After about five minutes, I sent the text. I got no response.
I waited a few more minutes and sent another text: “Can I come meet you all when this is over?”
That’s when it occurred to me: I’d been ditched by a group of college Republicans…in business suits.
The crushing blow to my confidence was brutal, and my ego will never be the same.
So, I was forced to watch the debate with the rest of the Fourth Estate in the media filing center — a huge room with several rows of desks where reporters all watched the same regurgitation of political talking points we’ve all been enduring for months.
Here’s what happens in a media filing center at the conclusion of a debate: politicians — from both sides of the aisle — come rushing in to try and convince the media that they’re respective candidate not only won the debate, but mopped the floor with their opponent.
Clearly, that was not the case for either candidate last night. Regardless, below are some quotes we
gathered from various pols following the debate:
Senator John Kerry: “The president won overwhelmingly. He exposed Mitt Romney
tonight…tonight he just stripped it away. The president of the Untied States showed he was in command, showed he has a vision for the next four years…Mitt Romney was just wrong — wrong on the facts. I think tonight Mitt Romney’s campaign fell away.”
Obama adviser David Axelrod: “There were several instances here where Governor Romney was simply
dishonest…I think the president was taken aback last time by the audacity of Governor Romney — his willingness to back away from his proposals….and that’s what you saw tonight — Governor Romney
backpedaling all night.”
Former New York Governor George Pataki:”I don’t think Obama was able to explain how his vision as to how things would be different to fix a broken economy…it was another good night for Governor Romney.,,The key here is substance. I think the president failed to explain in detail how he would improve the economy and move the country forward.”
New York Congressman Pete King: “Governor Romney clearly won it.”
New York Senator Chuck Schumer: “Mitt Romney grew weaker and weaker and got more flummoxed as the debate went by.”
Regardless of who won the debate, both candidates can hold their heads high — neither was straight-up ditched by a bunch of college Republicans.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 17, 2012