Dozens of student organizations filled the streets and walkways that comprise Main Campus three weeks ago during Fall Fest. Amid music blazing and other student organizations stood a Republican-decorated table manned by three students.
“Republicans are going to hold onto both [congressional] houses and Santorum is going to win,” said Brian Noel, vice chairman of the Temple University College Republicans. Noel, a senior, was referring to incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum, who is in a closely contested race with Democratic challenger Bob Casey Jr.
“Bob Casey has refused to take a stand on the issues, including Iraq and immigration,” said sophomore Ryan McCool, who majors in political science and is the second vice chairman of the College Republicans.
McCool notes that if Santorum is re-elected, he’ll likely be elevated from the No. 3 Senate Republican post to the No. 2 leadership role – a move that, McCool said, would put the senator in an enviable position to deliver for all Pennsylvanians well beyond what Casey would be able to achieve.
“Rendell knows Santorum is a better candidate,” McCool said, referring to Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell.
Rendell praised Santorum in “The Weekly Standard” in July. “Rick Santorum has proven that he gets the job done,” the magazine quoted Rendell as saying.
“Time and time again he has come through. … When it comes to Pennsylvania, Santorum delivers.”
Rendell said he would, and eventually did, campaign with Casey, but Santorum and the National Republican Senatorial Committee have capitalized on Rendell’s candor to marginalize the Democrat.
McCool said the mere thought of the Democratic Party taking over at least one chamber of Congress, especially the House, scares him.
“It would be frightening to have [Rep.] Nancy Pelosi two heartbeats from the presidency,” he said.
Pelosi, D-Calif., is the Democrats’ leader in the House. She’d likely become the first woman Speaker of the House if Democrats win a majority in that chamber.
Both loved and hated for her liberalism, as Speaker of the House Pelosi would, under federal law, become president if the presidency and vice presidency offices simultaneously became vacant.
College Republican David Kralle, a sophomore political science major, acknowledged that the Republican Party is “fighting an uphill battle,” but he rejected the doom-and-gloom predictions that Democrats will sweep both chambers of Congress.
A recent Pew Research Center poll showed Democrats with a double-digit lead over Republicans on the national stage, with Democrats at 49 percent to the GOP’s 38 percent among registered voters. Still,
“It’s not going to be as bad as people
think it’s going to be,” Kralle said.
Crime, property taxes and other local issues, Kralle said, are what voters primarily are concerned about. “Democrats want to make this a referendum on Iraq,” he said, “and I think that’s not working.”
Kralle, who also works as an aide for an unchallenged state representative, said he believes Republicans will retain their congressional and General Assembly majorities.
Standing behind a table topped with Santorum and other Pennsylvania Republican
candidate posters, Kralle said he expects Republican Thomas Kean Jr. to defeat Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez in the tight New Jersey race.
“New Jerseyans are fed up with the culture
of corruption and Bob Menendez’s Hudson
County style of politics,” Kralle said.
Kean has run primarily on a platform attempting to link Menendez to New Jersey corruption.
Menendez called Kean’s accusations defamatory and hinted he may respond with legal action “after the election,” the Associated Press reported.
Unlike the three aforementioned College Republicans, a fourth Republican not affiliated with the student organization said he’s “nervous” about what results today’s election will yield.
“I’m a realist here,” said Ian Peterson, a junior also majoring in political science.
“I’m just not as confident” as the three College Republicans.
Expressing doubt on Republicans’ chances
of maintaining their congressional majority, “It’s going to be a tough fight for us,” Peterson said. “It’s an uphill battle.”
Noel, the vice chairman of the College Republicans who double majors in BTMM and political science, had one message for all registered voters: “We just want everybody to get out and vote. Get your voice heard.”
Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman can be reached at email@example.com.