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Opening day of the 64th annual Conference on World Affairs maintained the weeklong event’s theme of “Everything Conceivable” with panels covering areas from economics and democracy, to reality television.
It also provided the first of many political discussions to be held on campus regarding the upcoming presidential election.
“Reluctantly Romney?” was held in the UMC at 9 a.m. Monday morning, with political journalists and commentators Guy Benson, Robert A. George and John Sinton leading the conversation. Approximately 80 people attended to hear them talk about Mitt Romney’s place in American politics.
Boulder resident Maia Belic thought that coming to the Conference, held on CU’s campus every year since 1948, would be a good way for her to learn about a political party she knows little about.
“As a liberal Democrat, I’m wanting to learn more about the Republican race,” she said.
Belic moved to Boulder recently and hoped to also familiarize herself with the university and its community. She said that the CWA seemed to be the best way to “get to know the campus better.”
The panelists’ opening remarks of “Reluctantly Romney?” summed up why the country finds this election in particular so important and intriguing.
“This is the most extraordinary, volatile primary season in history, especially with the vast number of [Republican] candidates,” Guy Benson said. The political editor of Townhall.com, the “leading source for conservative news,” Benson was one of two Republicans on the panel.
The other, Robert A. George, associate editor for the New York Post, discussed Romney’s tendency to flip-flop his opinion on important issues. According to George, it’s a tactic that will likely prove effective in winning Romney the Republican nomination.
“A candidate will shift from the far right or far left in the primaries to the center for the general election,” George said. “It’s been done in every election and I think that’s Romney’s strategy right now.”
Jon Sinton, the founder of Air America Radio, joked about being the only Democratic panelist, saying that it was a rare situation in Boulder. He provided insight into President Obama’s role in the Republican primary, which was a race between Romney and Rick Santorum, who suspended his campaign later Tuesday afternoon.
“Presidential incumbency has absolute power,” Sinton said about Romney seemingly being his party’s first choice because of his less-radical policies. “While [Republicans Mike] Huckabee or Chris Christie may have been the most qualified…I don’t think either of them wanted to end as number two in 2010.”
All three panelists agreed that it was going to be an uphill battle for Republicans facing Obama’s incumbency.
“We realize our A-team isn’t on the field this election season,” Benson said. “Romney is kind of a B-team player, although he definitely has a chance to win this thing.”
Student reactions to “Reluctantly Romney?” were positive. Patrick Stokes, a 20-year-old junior economics major, came to the event with an open mind and was pleased that it captured his attention.
“I couldn’t tell which political side this leaned to,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s a career in politics for me or not, but I’m definitely interested in the field.”
Alexis Winer, a 20-year-old junior political science major, was eager to hear about the election because of her academic background.
“I’m a moderate and definitely interested in both sides of the debate,” she said. “I thought that this would be a good event to come to.”
Election season will be discussed throughout the week by esteemed journalists, entrepreneurs, government officials and authors. Panels include Tuesday’s “Obama: What He Is and What He Isn’t” in Chemistry 140 from 11 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. and Wednesday’s “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire: Truth in Politics” in Humanities 1B50 from 2 to 3 p.m.
For a complete lists of panelists and events for the week, visit the CWA’s website at http://www.colorado.edu/cwa/schedule.html?year=2012.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Megan Moran at email@example.com.