Young conservatives storm Washington for CPAC. Bring on 2012, they say.
Half of the 11,000 attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) are college students. They're hoping to reproduce the youth enthusiasm of 2008 – but this time against Obama.
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Then there was the group of guys all putting on white T-shirts over their dress clothes – T-shirts that, from a distance, seemed to bear the iconic Barack Obama “Hope” image. No, wait, that’s Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels on those shirts, mocked up in that same Shepard Fairey style. And this is the Student Initiative to Draft Daniels, which has descended on Washington to call attention to their man Mitch.Skip to next paragraph
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“Daniels is our only hope,” says Michael Knowles, a senior at Yale University who started the Draft Daniels initiative with three other Yale students. There are now chapters of at least 10 students each at 52 colleges, he says.
“Barack Obama won two years ago, and our generation voted and worked for him,” says Mr. Knowles, the group’s political director. “The national debt is now $14 trillion and people my age are going to pay for that. It’s generational theft. Daniels knows how to cut a budget.”
For some students, attending CPAC is just a Metro ride away. Jessica Dholakia, a senior at George Washington University here in Washington, worked for Romney’s last presidential campaign and likes him again for 2012. Paul Blair, another in the pack of GW students, says he’s “100 percent opposed to Romney,” because of the individual mandate to buy health insurance in Romney’s Massachusetts health-care reform. His choice for president: Mitch Daniels, who addresses CPAC Friday night.
Ms. Dholakia, who is from Orange County in California says she opposes the individual mandate in the federal health-care reform, but under the 10th Amendment, it’s OK for Massachusetts to take that route. “That would never work in California,” she hastens to add.
A lot of the college students here seemed to be seniors. And maybe, just maybe, there was a little job-hunting going on on the side. Certainly, landing a paid campaign position right out of college would be a dream come true. Some have other plans. Knowles says he’s going to try acting in New York for a while after Yale, “then when that doesn’t work, I’ll probably go to law school.”