This story was written by Gabriella Schwarz, The GW Hatchet
WILKES-BARRE, Pa.Armed with conservative principles, country music and campaign flyers, 16 George Washington University College Republicans crisscrossed Pennsylvania's 10th District this weekend to get GOP voters to the polls Nov. 4.
Campaigning in support of congressional candidate Chris Hackett and Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, devoted CRs braved cold and rain to help bring a GOP victory for this crucial swing state.
"This area of Pennsylvania is important because we have the ability to not only affect the Presidential election, but also be key players in a local congressional election," said senior Brand Kroeger, chairman of the GW College Republicans and D.C. Federation of College Republicans. "Contact with voters is key to turnout, and if this race is within a few hundred or a few thousand votes, we will know that we have made the difference."
Three days were spent campaigning door-to-door and phone banking in Wilkes-Barre and Dallas, Pa. In downtown Wilkes-Barre, CRs manned the phones at the local Republican headquarters.
In a makeshift conservative shrine, many CRs called locals while surrounded by signs reading "We Love Cindy," "Another Democrat for McCain" and "Irish for McCain." A red jacket hung on the back wall that read "NRA Freedom." "McCain/Palin" signs served as drapes for the headquarters' front windows.
Many volunteers were met with positive remarks from men and women outside their homes during door-to-door canvassing.
When a middle-aged woman saw junior Beckah Restivo's McCain pamphlets, she said, "At least you're on the right side. Hopefully we'll win out." A young father on his porch said, "We're McCainers in this house."
At another house, a man who said he only votes on the issue of abortion greeted freshman Jorge Gadala-Maria by asking him if he was Catholic and Hispanic.
When Gadala-Maria said yes, the man said, "You're here legally though?"
At another house, a man came to his flag-adorned door wearing little clothing.
"I'm in my underwear, honey," the elderly man said to Restivo.
The 10th District typically votes RepublicanPresident George W. Bush won here by 20 percent in 2004.
Kroeger said the GW CRs are "contacted by a lot of campaigns" for their canvassing efforts, and travel where they will have the largest impact.
This election, however, Republicans are taking nothing for granted. Hackett, who hopes to unseat freshman Rep. Chris Carney, D-Pa., said the 2008 election season is a tough one for Republicans, especially because of the recent economic woes. Hackett said the race is not out of reach, however.
"This is a great opportunity for McCain to pick up votes," said Mark Harris, a 2005 GW graduate and Hackett's campaign manager. "We're on the verge of winning this race. If we increase Republican turnout by 3 percent we can win this election. We can make the difference by turning out the vote."
A poll released earlier this month by Franklin & Marshall College shows Carney with a 14-point lead. Obama leads McCain by 7 points in Pennsylvania, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.
But despite the polling numbers, the Republican spirit in the group was palpable.
"Every American girl is in love with Ronald Reagan," senior Cielo Villasenor said, later declaring Lonestar's "Every Little Thing That You Do" her love song to the former president.
The students relished the opportunity to take part in this historic election by meeting American voters both door-to-door and on the phone.
"It's a presidential election year!" CR freshman represenative Cynthia Meyer exclaimed. "The next time we will elect a president is in four years and I won't be at GW."