Republican college students get behind Ron Paul’s platform

The Minnesota Republican primary will be held Feb. 7

by Alysha Bohanon

Minnesota voters will go to the polls next Tuesday to select their favorite Republican candidate for the presidential election. Support for candidates has been quiet on the University of Minnesota campus, save for one.

Since returning from winter break, members of the student Youth for Ron Paul have staked out on the Washington Avenue Bridge to encourage students to vote for the Texas congressman in the Feb. 7 caucus.

Paul is the only major Republican candidate who hasnâÄôt won a primary or caucus, but University students are actively campaigning for him over the other three frontrunners.

âÄúA lot of young people are really into him,âÄù said Raymond Lee, the leader of the groupâÄôs University of Minnesota-Twin Cities chapter. âÄúHis views donâÄôt change, and people like that,âÄù Lee said. âÄúHonesty and integrity is really appealing to young voters.âÄù

David Schultz, professor of public policy at Hamline University, attributed PaulâÄôs popularity among students to his Libertarian economic policy and his platform of staying out of foreign wars, which appeals to both Democrats and Republicans.

Meanwhile, the frontrunners, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, havenâÄôt conveyed messages that resonate with students, Schultz said.

âÄúI donâÄôt think Gingrich or Romney âĦ are saying anything that seems to appeal at all to college students,âÄù Schultz said.

The College Republicans, a conservative student group on campus, hasnâÄôt endorsed a candidate yet but will unite behind whoever wins the nomination, the groupâÄôs President Julie Collier said.

âÄúWe tend to wait until thereâÄôs things they need us to do,âÄù she said. âÄúWhen thereâÄôs a candidate, weâÄôll be out volunteering.âÄù

The Florida primary is Tuesday, and some candidates are already turning their attention to Minnesota.

Romney and U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum will be the first candidates to visit Minnesota this year when they hold town halls in the upcoming days. Paul held a campaign event in St. Cloud, Minn., in early November.

A recent poll conducted by Public Policy Polling concluded of 303 likely caucus-goers in Minnesota, 36 percent supported Gingrich.

RomneyâÄôs support totaled 18 percent, followed by Santorum with 17 percent. Paul garnered just 13 percent of the likely voters.

Although Gingrich, Romney and Santorum are ahead of Paul in the polls, they lack organized campaign support on campus.

Schultz described the Republican nomination race as a battle between frontrunners Romney and Gingrich. Romney was initially pronounced the winner of the Iowa caucus before a recount awarded it to Santorum. Romney went on to win in New Hampshire.

Romney appeared to be the clear favorite before Gingrich took the South Carolina primary on Jan. 21.

Although Gingrich currently leads in Minnesota, âÄúitâÄôs not clear that the party establishment wants him,âÄù Schultz said.

While the focus has turned to Romney and Gingrich, PaulâÄôs student supporters arenâÄôt discouraged by his underdog status.

âÄúIf you look at how many polls have been taken in the past and how accurate they are,âÄù Lee said, âÄúI donâÄôt really think about them.âÄù