Complete with flags, banners, drums, and even a cardboard cut-out of President George W. Bush ’68, students from across the state of Connecticut came together on Friday in front of Payne Whitney to show their support for Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Also present at the rally was a group called “Billionaires for Bush” who staged a demonstration chanting slogans such as “Leave no billionaire behind,” and “Defend Enron.”
Organized by Robert Chung ’06, chairman of Yale Students for Bush, and vice-chairman of the Yale College Republicans, the Bush-Cheney rally drew a crowd of over 70 students. Participating schools included the University of Connecticut, Connecticut College, Fairfield College, and the University of Bridgeport.
“We just wanted to show Bush some support at his old University,” said Kevin Bayona, president of the Fairfield College Republicans
From within Yale, Chung said there were members the Yale Students for Bush, the Yale College Republicans, and many of the parties in the Yale Political Union.
“It’s about time all the Republicans on campus showed their support,” Alex de la Rosa ’06, a member of the Party of the Right said.
Planning for the rally started three weeks ago when Chung decided it would be best to hold it during the Yale-Harvard basketball game.
“Last semester, there were so many booths for Kerry and Dean,” Chung said. “I thought it was our time to come and show there are Bush supporters at Yale.”
Initially, the rally was to only include Yale students, but Erik Rapprich, chairman of the Connecticut Union of College Republicans, asked Chung to make it a statewide event.
Chung then contacted Jordan Sekulow, the national youth director of the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign, who agreed to send numerous signs and posters for the rally. Afterward, Chung, who is also the Vice Chairman of the Yale College Republicans, worked with the YCR to contact college Republican groups throughout Connecticut.
“We’re here supporting our troops and our president,” said Brian Piepmeier, a member of the Connecticut College Republicans. “We’re also here to show that not all college students are liberals.”
Also present at the rally were members of Bush’s old fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon, who came to support the president.
“We’re not a political group, but Bush is a DKE brother, so we came to support him,” DKE President Dicky Shanor ’05 said.
Republican supporters were not alone, as they were joined by the group Billionaires for Bush. Around 30 students were present, all dressed in formal attire and holding signs such as “Blood for Oil.”
Members also chanted slogans like “Who needs equal rights?” as they handed out pamphlets.
The “Billionaires” refused to give any real names or discuss the group’s platform. Instead, participants attempted to mix in with the Bush supporters while chanting slogans.
Pamphlets included lines such as “tax cuts generously gave millionaires and billionaires nearly $100,000 for each billionaire” and “the benefits to the poor and lazy average less than $100 per year.”
“I thought it would be great to support global warming,” a demonstrator who would give his name only as Seymour Benjamins said. “You can see how white I am, and global warming gives better tans.”
Bush supporters expressed their unhappiness with the Billionaires for Bush counter-rally.
“Liberal immaturity has really revealed itself tonight,” Brian Kim ’06 said. “Their chants have nothing to do with the candidates.”
Chung said it was difficult to stop the group because they blended in with the Republicans.
“One of the problems we faced in this rally was that they kind of look like Bush supporters,” Chung said.
Despite the counter-rally, participants in the Republican rally said they were still impressed by the turnout.
“I’m just glad to see so many Republicans here,” Mark Wells ’05 said. “We usually don’t see many at Yale.”