A group supporting the presidential bid of Republican frontrunner Rudy Giuliani will launch next week, the first such effort on campus in support of a GOP candidate in the 2008 election.
The Yale chapter of Students For Giuliani, a national, student-run organization backing the former New York mayor’s presidential bid, will kick off with a gathering on Wednesday at 8 p.m., said Matt Klein ’09, the group’s founder and secretary of the Yale College Republicans. Similar get-togethers are to be held nationwide at the same time, and Giuliani will address the students in a live webcast during the event, he said. The Republicans’ gathering comes months after campus Democrats began organizing in support of individual candidates.
In the coming weeks, the group plans to ramp up its outreach efforts on campus and spread awareness about the Giuliani campaign, Klein said. In the long term, the group hopes to place supporters in volunteer positions and help canvass in New Hampshire before the primary there.
“Our objective is to find people who are interested and bring them together … and put people where they’re needed and where they want to be helping out,” Klein said.
Their efforts would parallel those of some of their Democrat-leaning peers, who formed groups for several candidates last spring and this fall. Among those candidates with organized support from Yale students are Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. Hillary Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards.
While some campus Democrats began organizing as early as last April, when the Yale for Obama group debuted to much fanfare, support for Republican candidates has been less coordinated. At the first meeting of the Yale College Republicans earlier this month, no candidate seemed to have won out among Yale students, said Kathryn Baldwin ’09, vice president of activism for the College Republicans. In fact, she said, many individual students have not yet settled on a favorite.
One by one, group members spoke about the candidates they supported, Baldwin recalled. About a third of the students expressed support for Giuliani, another third spoke for “Law & Order” star and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, and others went for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — but not one of the candidates truly stood out in the amount or intensity of support they had garnered, Baldwin said.
“There were a lot of people who said, ‘I’m not sure just yet,’ or, ‘I’m not very happy with the candidates,’” she said. “I don’t think there’s really been one candidate who’s emerged.”
The lack of competing organizations on the Republican side seems to reflect that uncertainty. Whitney Fogg ’08, president of the College Republicans, said she has heard of no group other than Students for Giuliani that has formally organized to support a GOP candidate thus far.
Among Yale faculty, Giuliani is one of only two Republicans to have received any contributions in the 2008 election cycle. A News analysis of Federal Election Commission filings earlier this month showed more than $44,000 in contributions to Democratic candidates — most often to Obama — and only $500 each to Giuliani and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
Giuliani, 63, served as mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001 and experienced a surge in popularity for his leadership after the September 11th terrorist attacks. He has consistently led national polls for the GOP nomination and is widely considered a frontrunner in the race.
The former mayor, who previously served as a federal prosecutor and entered the private sector as a security consultant after leaving City Hall, garnered the support of 30 percent of Republicans nationwide in the most recent Gallup poll this week. He was trailed by Thompson at 22 percent and Sen. John McCain at 18 percent.
But the pro-choice, pro-gun control Giuliani has been dogged by questions about his conservative credentials and reports of some aspects of his personal life, including two divorces and an extramarital affair. And although he leads nationally among GOP voters — perhaps in part because of his post-9/11 name recognition as “America’s Mayor” — he trails Romney in both Iowa and New Hampshire, the two states that are the first to choose their nominees.
Still, even the Iowa caucus is still at least three months away. Voters in Connecticut will choose their presidential nominees on Feb. 5, 2008, the day dubbed “Super Tuesday”, when voters in more than 20 states will cast their ballots for the 2008 primary election.
The location for the first meeting of Students for Giuliani has yet to be announced.