On July 29th, over 200 young conservatives met in Washington D.C. to discuss which GOP candidate should receive the Republican nomination for United States president.
There are currently seventeen people competing for the 2016 GOP nomination. On Thursday, only the top ten candidates will compete in the first GOP primary debate of the 2016 election season.
With so many candidates, young Republicans are having difficulty choosing an ideal nominee.
President of the MC Republicans Club, Sarah Ditty, says the crowded GOP ballot is overwhelming. “I feel that some of them don’t really have any idea what kind of responsibility would be required for the field,” she says.
Fox News ranked the top ten GOP candidates based on the five most recent nationwide polls. Their results list Trump in the lead at 23%, followed by Bush (13%), Walker (11%), Carson (7%), Huckabee (7%), Cruz (6%), Paul (5%), Rubio (5%), Christie (3%), and Kasich (3%). These ten men have been named Thursday’s main Republican debate participants.
In her speech to young conservatives, Bay Buchanan, president of the American Cause and former treasurer of the United States under President Ronald Reagan, addressed Trump’s early lead.
“The Republican establishment has failed us,” she says. “We don’t need Trump representing our party, but we do need someone just as outspoken.”
Young Republicans attending the speech expressed support for a variety of Republican candidates including Kasich, Walker, and Cruz.
Ditty says she favors the Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul. “I believe he honestly cares for the people, and has some good ideas. He conducts himself with dignity, and would try to reform a lot of different programs and cut funding from those that are not necessary,” she says.
All 2016 presidential candidates, both Republican and Democrat, can benefit from the support of young people. Millennials are the largest generation in the country and could determine the nominees of both parties.
While much of the attention has been on the GOP candidates, college students are also expressing support for certain Democratic candidates.
President of the MC Democrats Club, Casey Kerins, says she’s noticed a “wave of support” among Democratic college students for Senator Bernie Sanders.
“I really feel he is a candidate who walks the walk, who has a lot of experience and is running a great campaign. His campaign is not funded at all by Super PAC money, and he refuses to run a negative ad, focusing solely on policy issues. He passionately advocates for college students, the working class, environmental concerns, veterans, and has a long history of supporting civil rights,” she says.
Whether Republican or Democrat, there are certain qualities both Kerins and Ditty would like the future President to possess. “Republican or Democrat, I really want to see someone passionate about the people, and about creating real, concrete change,” Kerins says.
Ditty echoes this. “First of all he should genuinely care about the well being of every citizen in the country. He should favor nobody over another. He should cross the aisle and work with members of every party with dignity and respect,” she says.
Kerins and Ditty pledge to bridge the gap between political parties at Messiah. When students return to campus the MC Republicans and MC Democrats will coordinate a voter registration for students. They also hope to hold debate viewings and informational meetings on the candidates.
The two clubs will each have a sign-up table at the Opportunities Fair. For more information on the MC Republicans Club contact Sarah Ditty at email@example.com or Kevin Wilcox at firstname.lastname@example.org and to learn more about the MC Democrats Club, email Casey Kerins at email@example.com
Matthew J. Connor at the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire contributed to this report.