GW College Republicans joined hundreds of students from across the country to endorse President George W. Bush’s conservative agenda and meet influential Republicans at the Conservative Political Action Conference last weekend in Arlington, Va.
Speakers included Vice President Dick Cheney, National Rifle Association President Charlton Heston and foreign dignitaries including former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
About 30 GW CRs joined students from Catholic University, Washington University in St. Louis, Bob Jones University in South Carolina and numerous other colleges.
Thousands of conservatives attended the 28th annual conference, which hosted panels, forums and speakers. Media officials, politicians, lobbyists and leaders of conservative political action groups spoke throughout the weekend.
“It was an excellent opportunity to hear influential, high-ranking Republican officials,” GW CR Chairman Bill Eldridge said.
Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) and former Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes discussed the 2000 election, President Bush and the conservative agenda in Congress at the conference Friday.
“Watts gave the vision that the you don’t have to be rich or white to be a Republican,” freshman Bryan O’Keefe said. “He was a very motivational speaker that portrayed true conservatism.”
The annual Ronald Reagan Banquet at the event Friday night featured keynote speeches by Netanyahu and Karl Rove, senior political adviser to Bush.
Rove detailed the president’s agenda and gave anecdotes from the campaign. He referred to former president Ronald Reagan, applauding his contributions to the conservative movement.
“Bush shows Reagan’s great ideas and we can trust the White House once again,” Rove said. “The role of a leader is not to listen to pollsters like the last administration but to lead by commitment.”
Rove said it is not enough to hold the office of presidency but to also execute the agenda Bush spread during his campaign. The administration currently has five priorities: improving public schools, cutting taxes, strengthening the military, beginning faith-based initiatives and saving and strengthening Social Security and Medicare, Rove said.
Netanyahu came to the podium discussing his contributions to Israel while he served as prime minister from 1996 to 1998. His speech touched upon the mistakes of the previous Israeli administration, the threat of Islamic fundamentalism and the importance of freedom and democracy.
Netanyahu advocated a ballistic missile defense system to protect the United States from threats from rogue countries such as Iran and Iraq. The same groups threatening the United States also threaten Israel and the nations cannot totally rely on current military technology, he said.
“The U.S. has to be a true democratic ally because of our shared (concept of) freedom,” he said.
Netanyahu said America’s strike on Iraqi communication sites Friday was the best course of action and said Israel and the United States need to do defend their citizens by any means necessary.
Netanyahu also discussed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, referring to Immanual Kant’s Perpetual Peace, explaining the difference between making peace with a dictatorship and a democracy.
“Democracies are naturally inclined towards peace but making peace with a dictatorship requires a different strategy,” he said.
Sam Donaldson of ABC News debated CNN’s “Crossfire” host Bob Novak Saturday in a forum on media bias. Defending the “left,” Donaldson said there were many conservatives in the media. Donaldson read the day’s editorials in The New York Times and The Washington Post, considered left-leaning papers.
“The idea that there is a concerted liberal bias is nonsense,” he said. “The power of the press in controlling politics is a myth, you (the audience) are the reason for the last eight years.”
Novak said the media is biased when editorial decisions are made concerning which stories to cover and those with a conservative slant are typically excluded.
“Of course the media has a liberal bias, they’re all liberal,” Novak said. “I know how the media has evolved since the Eisenhower administration, I am a token.”
Later in the day, CRs met with Sen. George Allen (R-Va.), who they campaigned for last semester in a close race with former senator Chuck Robb. Allen, the last speaker of the conference, discussed technology and said government should stay out of industry.
“We must stick to our principles as conservatives and continue to adapt, improve and innovate,” Allen said. “Never become satisfied with the current state of affairs and always move forward.”