Two Yalies have received leadership roles at the helm of Students for Mitt Romney, a political group that supports the conservative politician for president.
Alex Fisher ’14 and Richard Lee ’14 have been appointed “political director” and “west coast chair” of the political action committee, respectively. The group’s chairman Garrett Sweitzer, who is a junior at Vanderbilt University, said the two will establish a Yale chapter for the organization, which is currently working to reach out to younger voters in the lead-up to the 2012 Republican primaries.
Students for Mitt is not the only new group touting a possible Republican nominee: the Student Initiative to Draft Daniels, founded and led by National Director Max Eden ’11, supports Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who may run against Romney in next year’s primaries.
“It’s an exciting time to be a conservative at Yale, with more than one political action committee supporting a possible presidential candidate led by Yalies,” Fisher said.
Fisher and Lee said they hope to launch the Yale branch as an officially registered student organization as soon as possible, and are working on their application to do so.
The group’s primary objective is to recruit students through campus-wide events and attract attention with the help of student publications, Fisher said. Its long-term hope is to make Yalies a “driving force” behind Romney’s campaign if he declares intent to run, Fisher added. Fisher himself is a British citizen, and will not be able to vote for Romney, though he said he plans to encourage others to do so.
As conservatives at Yale gear up for the 2012 primaries and elections, Romney supporters will compete with other Republicans. Though Eden’s hopes are with a different candidate, he said he wished Students for Mitt good luck, adding that he does not think the new group will affect his organization’s operations.
He added that while Daniels is a rising presence among American conservatives, Romney campaigned in vain for the presidency in 2008.
“[Students for Mitt Romney] have a harder task in front of them,” he said. “You can’t say anything interesting about a guy who’s been running for President for six years.”
Ironically, Daniels spent part of his childhood in Vanderbilt, Tenn., where the Students for Mitt group is headquartered, and Romney lives in New England, where much of the Student Initiative to Draft Daniels’ activity is based.
While the Yale College Democrats enjoy a much larger following on campus than the Republicans, Dems President Marina Keegan ’12 said she is happy to see Yale’s conservatives becoming more active than they have been in the past.
“Conservatives have never been very organized on campus, and if they’re beginning to now, that’s great,” Keegan said. “Civic engagement of young people on either side of the political spectrum is exciting.”
Both Fisher and Lee reached out to Sweitzer about joining Students for Mitt after reading a RealClearPolitics article that introduced the group, and had impressive political credentials, Sweitzer said. Fisher’s morals and concept of American freedom appealed to him, he said, as did Lee’s experience working on Presidential nominee John McCain’s 2008 campaign. Fisher also worked for the British Conservative Party — which Sweitzer said is similar to the Republican Party — for a year.
Despite Fisher’s voting ineligibility and the fact that Lee is coordinating operations on California campuses three hours behind Yale, Sweitzer said they would both be useful leaders.
“We gladly sacrifice some convenience for competence on our executive team,” he said, adding that the availability of Facebook, e-mail and cell phones mean that geographical distance will not pose a problem for Lee.
Lee called Romney the “most conservative potential candidate who actually stands a chance at winning,” and Fisher also said that he thinks Romney will be the only viable Republican candidate in the upcoming primaries.
“It’s crucial that the Republican Party stand a candidate in 2012 who can win,” Fisher said. “Mitt Romney’s extensive experience in business and as a governor demonstrates that he is the only man able to beat Obama and unite America.”
Neither Romney nor Daniels has officially declared he will run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.