.The mood was unfailingly upbeat at Stub & Herbs as approximately 40 College Republicans crowded around to watch the address.
The only down moment of the night was when Bush introduced the parents of a U.S. soldier who died in combat. The couple was seated next to an Iraqi woman who had voted in the recent elections.
“When the Iraqi woman hugged the mom of the Marine, I thought I was going to cry,” said Tony Zammit, chairman of the College Republicans.
Zammit said that after the speech an e-mail would be sent out to all 1,500 people on the College Republicans mailing list encouraging them to write to Congress members saying they support some aspect of Bush’s speech.
Kyle Wilson, a political science junior and member of the College Republicans, said he was impressed with the speech and found the president “a lot bolder” than he thought he’d be.
“He’s not renowned for giving the strongest speeches in the world, but this was a pretty solid one,” he said.
He said Bush showed he is really open to accepting ideas when it comes to Social Security reform when he mentioned the suggestions of four Democrats.
Chris Montana, chairman of the College Democrats of Minnesota, said Republicans want to present a “sense of urgency” when it comes to Social Security because they feel this is their shot.
“For that to work, there’s got to be a crisis,” Montana said. “But there isn’t a crisis.”
Noah Seligman, a journalism and political science sophomore said, “(Bush) showed once again that he’s out of touch with reality.”
Seligman said he cannot tell where Bush stands on Pell Grants, saying he cut them a year ago and now says he plans to increase them.
Kathryn Pearson, a political science professor, said the president has to view this speech as a success.
She said the fact that it was framed in the context of a relatively successful election in Iraq and the fact that it ended with a moving moment with the Marine’s family made it a victory for Bush.
However, Pearson said there were a lot of controversial moments in the speech when only one side of Congress was standing and clapping.
She said Bush’s Social Security plan mentioned Democratic ideas, but it still was not met with much enthusiasm from the Democratic side.
She also said Bush’s mentioning of a constitutional amendment to protect marriage also produced division in the crowd.
Despite that, both College Republicans and Democrats agreed that introducing the family of the fallen Marine was a moving moment.
“It really hit home,” Zammit said, calling the moment “extremely powerful.”
Seligman said the moment moved him.
“It really shows the human side of war that gets lost in the rhetoric,” he said.