» By BRIAN BIGELOW – bbigelow@my.apsu.edu

The race for the Republican presidential nomination has been narrowed to four. Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are all vying for delegates in the primary races to reach the 1,144 needed to clinch the GOP nomination.

Gene Blanchard, senior History and Geography major and president of the APSU College Republicans, said, “I’m very excited because it looks like our primary vote’s going to really matter for the first time since I’ve been voting.”

Blanchard, Jacob Winters – sophomore Political Science major and vice president of the APSU College Republicans – and Justin Littlejohn – senior Criminal Justice and Online Security major and member of the APSU College Republicans – all said that they will support any Republican candidate in the general election against Obama.

“Each one of these men are great at what they do and would make a great president,” Winters said. “I feel as though any of the candidates would better represent me in the White House than President Obama or any other Democrat nominee.”

The College Republicans feel that the field has candidates with specific appeal to each corner of the party and some with broader appeal.

“I’m happy with the candidates we have. I think they pretty much show who is in our party. We have moderates in Romney, social conservatives represented by Santorum, libertarians by Paul and I think Gingrich represents all three in a way,” said Blanchard.

Blanchard and Littlejohn both said that there are people not in the race that they would support. Blanchard likes Tim Pawlenty and Mitch Daniels, while Littlejohn would have liked to see Colin Powell as a candidate, citing his service in the military and as a member of President George W. Bush’s cabinet.

“I’m going to vote for Mitt Romney even though I prefer Santorum, because Mitt Romney can play politics … he’s not as conservative – I consider him a moderate – but he actually has a chance of beating Obama. I don’t think Santorum … could beat Obama,” Littlejohn said.

The College Republican members disagree with choices made by President Obama on numerous issues including “Obama-care,” foreign policy, reductions to the military and his handling of the economy.

“I like Newt Gingrich’s ideas. I like Romney’s general record as a job creator. If I had to pick favorites, those would be my two favorites. Santorum [is] really good on social issues, but this isn’t going to be an election about social issues,” said Blanchard, explaining that this election is about the economy, the deficit and whether students will have jobs to look forward to when they graduate. “We just can’t keep passing the buck to our grandkids. Eventually all this money is going to have to come due.”

Littlejohn said that the main issues are “foreign affairs and our country’s debt.”

“Paul [is] right about a lot of the economic issues,” Blanchard said, but admits that he disagrees with Paul’s foreign policy.

This sentiment is echoed by Littlejohn, who cited Paul’s plans to scale back the military as a major point of dissent.

The members of the College Republicans give different reasons for becoming attracted to the Republican party, but all express agreement with conservative social, economic and foreign policy to varying extent.

“My mother was 40 when she had me and her OBGYN wanted her to abort me because he said that I was probably going to be handicapped … so it’s a very personal issue for me,” Blanchard said.

“If you don’t want to raise a child, the child still deserves the chance to have a life and so that’s why I’m a Republican for the most part.”

Winters identifies with the Republicans on “almost every issue” and that they represent his family and community and refers to his “small town” upbringing as the root of his support for the party.

“I’m not really a Republican. I’m technically a conservative,” Littlejohn said, making a distinction between party affiliation and the opinions that drive his voting.

“I vote Republican because I believe in America’s conservative values … that the Constitution is the law of the land.” TAS