CRNC brings CPAC upstairs to students
Guests included Newt Gingrich, Justin Amash, and Reince Priebus.
With the rest of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) partygoers downstairs, an estimated 300 College Republicans packed into a hotel hallway Saturday afternoon, waiting to take photos with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich wasn’t the first or only CPAC celebrity to visit the College Republican National Committee's (CRNC) seventh floor suite, but he did draw the biggest gathering of college students. Most listeners spilled out into the hallway, straining to hear Gingrich speak about innovation and his book Breakout, before being shepherded into the single-file photo line by the Prince George’s County Fire Department.
This event couldn’t be found on the official CPAC schedule, and missing also were visits to the Gaylord Hotel’s seventh floor by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, and Republican National Committee Co-Chair Sharon Day. Instead, the CRNC informed College Republicans via mass texts of the meetings beforehand.
“I think events like this, where speakers come to where they are, where they show young people that they’re important and that they are being listened to, it’s just incredibly important,” CRNC National Chair Alex Smith told Campus Reform.
“It means a lot for these CRs got to see Chairman Priebus on the faraway stage but rather right in the room with them, showing them that he cares enough to talk to them.”
Smith said that she hopes this mix—of leaders, students, parties, and politics—“bridges the divide” between college students and politicians, adding that she has faith this will fuel more conservative lawmakers to integrate with students on campuses nationwide.
Smith also wasn’t surprised that 70-year-old Gingrich was such a hit among students Saturday afternoon, calling him “someone that very much gets young people.”
“He is just always innovating, always thinking on the cutting-edge, just incredibly smart,” Smith said. “And he’s just someone who is not afraid to just overthrow the conventional wisdom and start thinking along new lines which I just find incredibly impressive for someone of his experience.”
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