The CUCR convention was this weekend. I am of course but a tiny cog in the immense war machine that is the CUCR, but here are some of the interesting things I noticed.
Governor Rell was the keynote speaker. Unfortunately, I missed her speech.
Rob Simmons was next up at the plate. Standard youth stump speech, I've heard most of it before from him. If people have never listened to him speak, he is very engaging, interesting, and lively. His answers to some questions are noteworthy. He's been to Iraq numerous times, but I think he realized he was preaching to the choir on the War and so he didn't have too too much to say. He responded to a question on illegal immigration, saying that the response he always gave to the question was: "It is illegal." He voted for HR 4437, as did Shays (who did not attend). He then went on to expound upon a common theme among the speakers, that the key is to strengthen the security of the borders, but that it was impossible to simply throw out 11 million people. He spoke on his role on the Veteran's Committee, and was proud of the general trend of growing support for veterans. He also spoke of his support for the commissioning of the new Virginia class submarines and in saving Groton.
Nancy Johnson once again re-affirmed my impression of her as an incredibly intelligent woman. She's been in Congress for a long while, but she is definitely worthy of the post. She sounded a similar, but softer, note on immigration; she did not vote for HR 4437. She talked more generally about the rights and responsibilities of the citizen, and the citizen's relationship to government. She praised the free market, and connected this to her health care plan. I think the drug benefit is a huge mess, but she really had me convinced as to its utility. I've definitely moved more towards support for it, or at least for the way she wrote it. Then she was whisked off to another event.
We were then herded into rooms, our colleges separated by District. Despite Trinity's location in the 1st District (is there a name against Larson yet?) we were placed in the 5th District. Most of the students at the Conference actually lived in the District that their school is located in (as their schools are mostly public) and by odd coincidence myself and the other Trinity representative also both live in the 5th.
It was very, very clear the Johnson is taking her campaign this year incredibly seriously. In 2004, her staffers and other party bigwigs referred to her race as somewhat of a joke - the question for Nancy was not whether she would win but by how much of a margin she could crush her opponent. This year is very different. The staffers we talked to made it clear that Murphy is an extremely able opponent, who has a very good chance. My opinion before was that Nancy was unbeatable - this meeting really put the fear of God into me, as it were. Much emphasis was placed on grassroots efforts.
Finally, Alan Schlesinger spoke. He is clearly rapidly gearing up his campaign - his campaign paraphenalia was available in abundance. I was extremely impressed by this man. He abandoned the lectern to speak directly to us; trying quite hard, and successfully, to turn his speech into a rally. Before his speech, I was ambivalent to his campaign, and might actually have been content to vote for Joe. He spoke extremely passionately on Medicare and Social Security reform - his plan for "Guaranteed Social Security" is already fairly well developed and actually quite savvy. Though he was speaking to a youth audience which naturally was quite amenable to his ideas on these reforms, Social Security and Medicare reform are clearly his big issues. He supports a guest worker program, but is fervently opposed to amnesty. He has by far the most conservative stance on the issue, as he supports mandating English proficiency for the guest workers after a period of five years.
He flat out stated that if Lamont ran as a Democrat and Lieberman as an Independent that he would almost certainly be able to win, drawing historical parallels similar to those drawn by GC here on the blog. He was also incidentally the only speaker to actually mention the blogosphere during his speech, saying that he gains some optimism based on the analysis of his campaign offered at the websites. He knows that he has to seize this one opportunity while Democrats are divided.
He is clearly a fiscal conservative. Aside from immigration, his ideas on social issues remain unclear. He will probably attempt to define himself as a social moderate. Again, an extremely impressive speaker, who seems that he is well on his way to establishing a solid campaign. Only time will tell.
All three candidates had very youthful staffers - a good majority of paid staff were under thirty. Alan's campaign seemed the most youth oriented.