Two days after Super Tuesday, Professor of Political Science Iva Deutchman and two juniors, Lauren Zeitler and Tim Offray, attended the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C.
Founded in 1973, the conference has grown into an annual political gathering attended by more than 6,000 activists, elected officials, students and professors from across the United States. The conference is hosted by the American Conservative Union in association with more than 70 sponsors including Human Events and the Young America’s Foundation.
“For a political scientist who studies modern American conservatism, the whole experience of CPAC is pretty incredible,” Deutchman says. “It’s interesting to see Republican perspectives on the Republicans in power, and it’s also great to be able to meet and talk to people whose books I have read and even taught.”
Deutchman, Zeitler and Offray saw Vice President Dick Cheney speak, as well as presidential hopefuls John McCain and Mike Huckabee. They also attended Mitt Romney’s speech in which he suspended his campaign for president. Other speakers at the 2008 conference included political heavies such as President George W. Bush, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and American conservative talk radio host and author Laura Ingraham.
“I really enjoyed seeing McCain speak about immigration issues, even though he was booed,” says Zeitler, a double major in political science and Latin American studies. “Seeing how McCain and the other candidates strategized and tried to appeal to the entire conservative base was fascinating. I was able to experience first-hand how individual factions are represented and how politicians cater to them.”
“Professor Deutchman’s course on Conservatism gave me the background to recognize the religious and economic belief systems in play at CPAC,” says Offray, an economics and political science double major. “The conservative movement places a great deal of emphasis on a moral code which inevitably results in faith-based initiatives. I always knew this but experiencing it in person made it a lot more real to me.”
In addition to speeches and presentations, CPAC also featured book signings, job and internship fairs, career panels, and advertiser and sponsor receptions.
“There are incredible networking opportunities,” Deutchman says. “You can go right up to politicians and talk to them. It’s the best conference I’ve ever been to … I learned more than at any other.”
“Being together with all of the supporters of each candidate was a remarkable experience,” says Offray. “The energy and passion these people have for their candidates was palpable. It made the race come alive for me.”
This trip was made possible with funding from the Smith Richardson Foundation, which promotes the study of conservatism on college campuses. This is the second year in a row that Deutchman has taken Hobart and William Smith students to CPAC.