While the football team was gearing up for its first game against San Diego State, the Notre Dame College Republicans headed north to show their support for the presidential ticket of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at a Sept. 5 political rally in Sterling Heights, Mich.
"The rally was absolutely awesome and inspiring," College Republicans President Edward Yap said. "The 25 Notre Dame and Saint Mary's students that collectively drove more than 40 hours to see the McCain/Palin rally in Sterling Heights left ready to do anything and everything necessary to elect John McCain and Sarah Palin."
Yap and 24 others drove to the rally despite the Student Activities Office's refusal to fund the trip. Originally about 125 students had signed up to go and Yap said the College Republicans were willing to pay for the trip with club funds.
However, SAO denied the group's request, saying student funding cannot be used in support of any political candidate and also refused to give group members excused absences from their classes.
"What angers me the most is that if the College Republicans cannot use money in support of a candidate, what can we use the money for?" Yap said. "So in essence the university was telling us that we were essentially forbidden from going to the rally as a group. We had to drive our own cars and spend hundreds of dollars on gas to get to the event."
However, members of the College Republicans said the trip was well worth the cost as all 25 students were given special front row seating and were able to shake hands with McCain and Palin. Yap said Palin even signed his Fighting Irish flag.
"I'll be cherishing that for the rest of my life," he said. "I felt as if they were speaking to me and every other person in the room, young and old, and telling us that the future - our future would be well protected in their hands."
Junior Cynthia Curley said he was able to connect with McCain and Palin during their speeches.
"You realize that they are real people and in the brief 15 seconds that you get to speak with them, they really look you in the eye and really connect with you," she said.
Curley even invited McCain to stay in her dorm room for football games, adding hosting a presidential candidate would be well worth breaking parietals.
"As he was leaving John McCain said he wanted to come to a Notre Dame football game, and I told him he could sleep in my dorm. It would be worth breaking parietals," she said.
Education chair Andrew Clark and junior Christine Romero, who also co-chairs ND Votes '08, both said they were most excited to see Palin speak.
"I'm really excited about Governor Palin as the vice presidential candidate," Romero said. "She's an idol of mine and she shows that the liberals don't have a monopoly on feminism anymore. I love her."
Clark said while he supported McCain, he wasn't really excited for the upcoming election until Palin was picked as the vice presidential candidate.
"Everyone would just kind of tolerate McCain and support him because he was the Republican candidate, but they weren't really excited. I think everyone's excited now," he said. "She brings the same charisma to the Republican ticket that [Barack] Obama brings to the Democratic ticket."
The members of the College Republicans all said they hoped the ticket would consider visiting campus in the months leading up to the election.
"Indiana right now is becoming a battleground state," Yap said. "According to polling, John McCain is only up by 2 points, so I think [he] would consider coming to campus."
However, the membersquestioned the university's hospitality for candidates, citing the fact that in the past 20 years only Joe Lieberman and Bill Clinton have visited campus in the midst of their bids for the White House.
"It's kind of making Notre Dame fall off the map a little bit because we can't attract candidates to campus," Romero said.