Washington and Lee University’s 2012 Mock Republican Convention awarded its nomination to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on Saturday.
The Indiana delegation put Romney over the top by awarding all 46 of its delegates to him, touching off a flag-waving celebration in the University’s Warner Center.
Following the nomination of Romney, the convention’s tri-chairs announced the choice of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell as the vice presidential nominee.
Romney’s wife, Ann Romney, accepted the nomination on behalf of her husband in a telephone call to the convention that was played on a loudspeaker: “This is awesome,” she said. “We are so pleased. This is a great tradition, and we are glad to see so many students so engaged and involved in the political process in Virginia, a state with a rich history and one that will play a pivotal role in the next election.” (The candidate was in the air and so unable to make the call himself.)
Romney, who finished with 1,781 delegate votes, was followed in the voting by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich with 222, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum with 151 and Texas Rep. Ron Paul with 130.
Zachary Wilkes, a senior politics major from Farmersville, La., and the political chair of the convention, said he thought the W&L prediction will stand up when the GOP meets in Tampa this summer.
“Romney has the ground organization and the appeal in all 50 states,” said Wilkes. “People can challenge him in the South and challenge him in the West, but no one can challenge him across the nation.”
The roll call of states climaxed three days filled with political speeches from Republican luminaries, including former GOP candidate Jon Huntsman and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who gave the keynote address prior to the prediction.
Barbour, who had addressed the 1996 Washington and Lee Mock Convention that correctly nominated Bob Dole as the GOP nominee, told the student delegates that this was going to be the most important election of their lifetimes.
“I can’t wait until the afternoon’s over, because I know you’re going to get the nominee right,” said Barbour. “And I can you tell right now, I have no idea who’s going to be our nominee, so you’re ahead of me.”
The convention, planned and executed entirely by students, involved virtually the entire undergraduate student body and about half of the law school students.
In addition to promoting their own agendas and endorsing candidates, the speakers uniformly praised the student organizers and exhorted the student delegates to stay involved in politics.
Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, who entertained the crowd by playing a Rolling Stones tune on his guitar, told the audience: “The future of the U.S. is in your hands. Trust yourselves, do not trust politicians.”
Huntsman warned them not to become cynical about politics. "Don't become detached from the system," he said. "The world is waiting for your generation to lead.”
Former Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watt said that he wants his children and grandchildren to inherit “an exceptional America” and challenged the students, saying: "We all have a role to play in sustaining the greatness of America.”
In their remarks, both Huntsman and House Majority Leader and Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor cited Washington and Lee’s motto, “Not unmindful of the future,” to emphasize the important roles students will play in the world.
This event was the 25th time the W&L students have predicted the nominee of the party out of power. The event began in 1908. Heading into this convention, their record stood at 75 percent overall (18 of 24), and they had been incorrect on only two occasions since 1948 — picking Edward Kennedy instead of George McGovern in 1972, and Hillary Clinton instead of Barack Obama in 2008.
Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs