WEB EXTRA: About 100 turn out to State of the Union viewing

GW’s political wonks turned out and tuned in at the Hippodrome Tuesday night to spend the evening watching President Bush’s annual State of the Union address.

About 100 College Republicans, College Democrats and non-partisans attended the event. The watching party in the Marvin Center was sponsored by the CRs, CDs and the Call to Serve campaign, a new group on campus aimed at recruiting GW students to go into public service upon graduation.

Josh Schimmerling, a graduate student who works with Call to Serve, said the group offers co-sponsorships to any event as long as there is a public service theme. While the organization does not support one political end of the spectrum, it has its own views about major political issues.

“Bush is transforming the world, and we want GW students to have the ability to transform their worlds,” Schimmerling said.

Emotions were mostly calm among members of the CRs and CDs, besides some snickering faces between the two at points during the speech.

In a 51-minute speech delivered in the House of Representatives, Bush spoke in broad terms of weaning Americans from their heavy reliance on oil and putting more emphasis on education in math and the sciences. He did not introduce new initiatives for health care and Social Security, though he emphasized the need to make reforms in those areas.

On the foreign front Bush chose not to strongly condemn Hamas, the terrorist group that won an overwhelming majority of seats last week in the Palestinian legislature, and the rulers of Iran, who have recently signaled their intention to continue the construction of facilities capable of turning out nuclear weapons.

One fuel for the political fire in the Marvin Center came when news broke on the four televisions – two tuned to Fox News and two on CNN – that anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan had been detained and escorted out of the Capitol building.

The mother of an American soldier who died in Iraq exposed an anti-Bush t-shirt from inside the House of Representative chambers, where the speech took place Tuesday night.

Upon hearing that she had been led out of the gallery in handcuffs, College Republicans cheered and one College Democrats member shouted, “Free speech.”

-Michael Barnett and Brandon Butler contributed to this report.

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