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Blogging Mock Convention: Day Two

J.C. Watts Has the Last Word

Although Herman Cain was a last-minute scratch, the Mock Convention delegates got plenty of political rhetoric, with former Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts offering the final speech of the second session.

Watts noted that he’d been in Lexington for the 2000 Republican Mock Convention. The strength of America, he said, “is you, it’s me, it’s us.”

Referring to his own children, who are in college, Watts said that he wants his kids and his grandkids to inherit “an exceptional America.”

“We all have a role to play in sustaining the greatness of America,” Watts concluded.

The second session was adjourned at 9:40 p.m. Session three will begin on Saturday at 10 a.m. The roll of the states is set for Saturday afternoon.

Not Unmindful of the Future

Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah and former ambassador to China, received a warm welcome to Warner Center, where he became the second speaker of the day to use Washington and Lee’s motto in his speech. Earlier, House Majority Leader and Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor had also referred to that motto: Not unmindful of the future.

Huntsman, an unsuccessful candidate for the GOP nomination, told the audience that Americans are a “blue-sky, problem-solving, optimistic people.” Referring to the polarization of politics, he drew applause when he said: “In order to get the work done, we’ve got to remember that we are first and foremost Americans. I’m an American before I’m a Republican.”

Speaking directly to the students, Huntsman exhorted them not to become cynical about politics: “Don’t become detached from the system.”

“The world is waiting for your generation to lead,” he concluded.

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W&L Alum Chris Burnham ’80 Endorses Romney

Chris Burnham, a 1980 grad, turned to the Bible, Isaiah 6:8, asking, “Who shall go for us?” He believes the Republican presidential candidate will be, and should be, Romney. “It is my privilege to be here as an advocate for Mitt Romney,” he said.

Romney is not a community organizer, Burnham noted. He focused on Romney’s experience in turning around the troubled Salt Lake City Olympics, restructuring foundering companies and the state of Massachusetts. Romney, he said, cut taxes 19 times, balancing the Massachusetts state budget and setting aside money for a rainy-day fund.

He quoted Daniel Webster: “Power to tax is the power to destroy.” Burnham also said, “We labor under a tax code that is outdated for the times in which we live.”

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Michigan Rep. Thad McCotter Jams

At the end of his speech at the W&L Mock Convention, Michigan Rep. Thad McCotter plugged in his guitar to play a seldom-performed Rolling Stones number, “Parachute Woman.” Since 2005, Rep. McCotter has played lead guitar in the bipartisan congressional rock band named The Second Amendments.

Before he broke out the red, white and blue ax, he spoke about the concept that the most government is the one with the least government. In that vein, he discussed the economy, Obamacare, entitlement programs, terrorists and communist China. “The future of the U.S. is in your hands,” he told the students. “Trust yourselves, do not trust politicians.”

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Cantor Heads to Greta Van Susteren’s Show

After making his speech at Washington and Lee’s Mock Republican Convention this afternoon, House Majority Leader and Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor left Lexington and prepared to go on Fox News’ “On the Record” with Greta Van Susteren tonight to discuss the proposals he made in Lexington.

The Hill has already written about Cantor’s W&L speech, and you can look for photos by W&L staff photographer Kevin Remington on tonight’s “On the Record.”

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Odds and Ends from Session One

Mock Convention Personnel Chair Tucker Pribor noted that 98 percent of the student body was participating in Mock Con—even though Warner Center was noticeably empty for the afternoon session. He surmised that the other 2 percent was probably studying abroad and therefore not on campus.

Two of Virginia’s top elected officials addressed the opening session: Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

McDonnell arrived a few minutes late to the podium, because he had just come from the American Conservative Union’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington. The governor spoke to the importance of Mock Con by mentioning his daughter, who, when she was stationed in Iraq, witnessed Iraqi women voting for the first time. In that 2006 election, he said, over 70 percent of Iraqis voted; in the election that brought him to the Virginia governor’s office, McDonnell noted, only 45 percent of Virginians went to the polls. “Americans have died and continue to die to protect our freedoms,” he said. “We should never take the right to vote for granted.”

McDonnell reiterated his enthusiastic endorsement of Mitt Romney for president, calling him “the right guy at the right time for America.” He said that students who would be looking for a job after graduation should support a candidate who will be actively creating jobs for them.

Cuccinelli, bolstering his reputation as an activist attorney general who has made state and national headlines, spoke of how “Americans are fighting back to preserve their constitution” and of what he views as an “assault on liberty by this administration . . . an assault on the constitution itself.”

Mock Con co-chair Tricia King thanked their advisor, Bill Connelly, John K. Boardman Professor of Politics, for instilling in them “the power and the virtue of the notion of student self-governance.” She told her fellow students that “this weekend will stay with you forever” and affirmed, “There’s nothing ‘mock’ about this convention; it’s the real deal.”

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Herman Cain Last Minute Cancellation

Former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, who was a late addition to the list of speakers for the 2012 Mock Convention, was a last minute scratch.

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South Carolina Float Wins

The State Float Awards go to South Carolina (first), Kentucky (second) and Oklahoma (third place). The winner of the Storefront Decorating Contest is Alvin-Dennis, the clothing store that has outfitted delegates for many a Mock Con. See the float slide show here.

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Rep. Cantor to Make Headlines 

Reports in both Mike Allen’s “Playbook” on Politico and Mark Halpern’s The Page blog on TIME magazine’s website indicate that House Majority Leader and Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor is going to make some national news today at Washington and Lee, when he addresses the Mock Convention in this afternoon’s session.

Both sources say that Cantor will offer a response to President Obama’s “fair shot” vision and that he will unveil a “20% tax cut for small business in America.”

Mike, a 1986 alum and White House correspondent for Politico, was back on campus yesterday long enough to co-moderate the Mock Convention’s James Carville-Ann Coulter debate with fellow alum Kelly Evans, Class of 2007, who’s now with CNBC. He headed back to Washington after the moderating gig and has a lengthy preview of the Cantor speech in “Playbook.” Here’s a link; the reference is about midway down.

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Down Main Street They Came

Cheeseheads under Lambeau Field goalposts from Wisconsin, Kentucky’s Churchill Downs with the Derby in progress, a horse-drawn Sooner wagon from Oklahoma, 10 brides (but no groom) from Utah, and a Maine lighthouse with the promise of lobsters —the annual Mock Convention parade rolled quickly down Main Street this morning. The 50 floats were on and off Main in less than 30 minutes, moving crisply because of the chilly February temperature.

The absence of an elephant didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits. After working hard to find an elephant, the Mock Convention organizers opted on Monday to cancel its appearance rather than have potential protests by animal-rights activists overshadow the entire event. As one parade watcher was overheard to say, “I guess there was no elephant because they spent all the money on (Herman) Cain.”

Watch for a gallery of floats on the University’s Scene on Campus page shortly.