Despite a cloud of scandal surrounding the GOP and one of its most ascendant figures, Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) delivered a positive message during a speech to College Republicans on Capitol Hill Thursday.
While he side-stepped questions on the recent indictment of House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-Texas), who was forced to temporarily step down from his leadership post, Allen focused instead on the need for continued support of the Republican Party as it tackles wide-ranging issues including energy independence and education. Allen also spoke about pressing presidential nominations that have been held up in the Senate.
Junior Gary Livacari, the College Republicans’ political chair, introduced Allen by tossing him a football signed by members of the College Republicans Executive Board. Allen is rumored to be a potential 2008 presidential candidate.
Allen’s announcement that he had come straight from the swearing-in of newly confirmed Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was met with cheers from the crowd, allowing him to stress the need for judges to understand their duty to “apply the law, not invent law.”
Though Roberts was confirmed in the Senate by a vote of 78 to 22 Thursday, Allen warned that President Bush’s upcoming Supreme Court appointment might encounter resistance from Senate Democrats, who hope he will appoint a moderate to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Allen added that Democrats might try to use a filibuster to delay or block the next nominee, and he emphasized how important it is for the issue to get to a vote.
“All senators should get off their cushy seats and vote yes or no,” he said.
Allen, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed regret that John Bolton, who was chosen by Bush to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, failed to gather enough support in the Senate. Bush was forced to make him a recess appointment that required no vote.
Allen said he believes Bolton is qualified for the position and praised his efforts for aggressive reform at the United Nations.
“If we send $2 billion to the UN, the organization should not support oppressive regimes, engage in America bashing, and it should not be allowed to fritter away money,” he said.
Other students at the event disagreed with the senator, arguing that Bush should have appointed someone optimistic about the United Nations.
“I feel that it has become very fashionable to bash the United Nations. I think we can all agree that reform is necessary, but we have to believe in the organization because it is all we have,” said freshman Robert Russo, a GW College Democrat who attended the event.
Allen also passionately argued for changes in the nation’s energy policy, specifically the way the country produces electricity.
“We have got to stop using natural gas to produce electricity. It is like using bottled water to wash your dishes,” he said.
Allen repeatedly stressed the need for students to get a solid education, and he urged everyone present to “stay strong for freedom.”
The senator’s statements resonated with the crowd, including freshman Bevan Sabo, who agreed that “the public schools have failed, and we need more creativity in order to prepare the next generation of engineers.”
Other attendees, however, thought Allen was only concerned with partisan politics and is focused exclusively on Republican goals.
“It seems too much like he is just interested in getting enough votes to pass what he wants, rather than working towards a bipartisan compromise,” freshman Dan Wick said.
But students said that they found Allen to be surprisingly humble, and College Republican Chairman Jeff Holth noticed Allen’s ability to communicate with young people.
Freshman Brand Kroeger agreed and said, “While he was with us, I felt like we were the only thing on his agenda … not a typical politician.”