WASHINGTON – Young conservatives converged Wednesday to think about which older conservative would best represent the Republican Party in 2016.
Bay Buchanan, president of the American Cause and former treasurer of the United States under President Ronald Reagan, told more than 200 college students that the eventual GOP nominee must adopt part of Donald Trump’s flare.
“The Republican establishment has failed us,” Buchanan said. “We don’t need Trump representing our party, but we do need someone just as outspoken.”
The sister of three-time presidential candidate Pat Buchanan was one of the featured speakers on the third day of the Young America’s Foundation’s national conference.
With 16 people vying for the 2016 GOP nomination, Buchanan said each candidate needs to make his or her policies exciting for young voters.
Millennials, the largest generation in the country, could determine the fate of either party for the White House in 2016.
Tristan Justice, 18, an incoming freshman from at American University in Washington from Columbus, Ohio, said he wants his governor, John Kasich, to be the GOP nominee.
“He’s got both the private sector experience and the congressional experience,” Justice said. “He doesn’t play political games like the others.”
Buchanan said she is unconvinced that Kasich can win the nomination. In the latest CNN/ORC International poll, Kasich polled at 4 percent, tying with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and retired surgeon Ben Carson for eighth place. Trump was ahead of Kasich by 14 points.
“He’s boring,” Buchanan said. “Boring doesn’t beat Trump.”
Buchanan said conservative college students must work harder to engage their peers in political conversations about 2016.
Buchanan said the Founding Fathers fought so people would have the right to freedom of speech.
She said that, at college campuses, conservatives must confront their more liberal or independent peers and challenge them on issues ranging from abortion to the national debt.
“One person can change a lot,” Buchanan said. “What you believe is right for this country. And I challenge every single one of you to start the debate.”
Buchanan said people incorrectly label Republicans for their values, but this should not silence students who identify with the party.
“We’re considered to be racists, xenophobes, homophobes and a couple other things,” Buchanan said. “But all we are are Americans who hold traditional values.”
The GOP’s presidential nominee has failed to win a majority of millennial voters since 2004 when the first few members of the generation were old enough to vote.
Students at the conference did not have a consensus on the right candidate for 2016.
Lauren Houck, 21, a rising senior at Eastern Michigan University from Jackson, Mich., said one GOP candidate is already winning millennial voters with social media.
“Scott Walker announced his campaign via Instagram,” Houck said. “I follow the campaign on Snapchat, and it’s like you’re right there.”
Sergio Mota, 19, a student at Indian River State College from Sebastian, Fla., said that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, best represents the GOP because he is the most principled.
Mota said Trump is making a good point about immigration policies.
“I’m Hispanic, and I believe we should have a strong border,” Mota said.
Reach Matthew J. Connor at [email protected] or 202-408-1494. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
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