Local GOP rallies for McCain



By Paolo Cisneros

Area Republicans gathered at Jupiter’s II in Champaign on Thursday night to watch Sen. John McCain of Arizona accept his party’s nomination for president.

The event was organized by the Champaign County Young Republicans, an organization that seeks to connect local Republicans aged between 18 and 40 years. Republicans of all ages were invited to attend.

Young Republicans president Kristin Williamson said the event was intended to celebrate McCain’s nomination before settling down to continue the fight for his election.

“We thought this was a great way to get people excited for the work ahead,” she said.

More than 20 people attended the event, and most said the energy among local Republicans is higher this year than it has been in recent elections.

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As he awaited McCain’s speech, Young Republicans vice chair John Farney said Wednesday night’s speech by vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska, helped give new life to the Republican campaign.

“I don’t know what it is about her, but she’s gotten people energized,” he said. “This last week, the enthusiasm has picked up greatly.”

Farney admitted that McCain has his work cut out for him if he hopes to win younger demographics on a national scale, but said voters should not assume the youth vote is a foregone conclusion.

“He needs to stress that the United States will not back down to our enemies, that we don’t back down when it comes to energy independence, and that government won’t be overbearing in telling you how to live your life,” he said.

UI students also attended.

Graduate student Elizabeth Gehrt said this year’s election has put new life into college voters, momentum she hopes will work in McCain’s favor.

“People are more interested this year (than they were in 2006),” she said. “People are talking about this election, and I feel like more people are going to get out and vote.”

At the conclusion of the speech, when all was said and done, the consensus among attendees was that McCain succeeded in laying out his plan for his presidency.

“I thought the speech was phenomenal,” Farney said. “There’s nothing like McCain’s personal connections.”