A long line of cold Coloradans twisted through the parking lot at Walker Mowers, a family-owned tractor-manufacturing warehouse on East Harmony. Vendors hawked buttons and t-shirts reading, “We Built It” and “OMG: Obama Must Go.” Volunteers walked the line with voter registration sheets.
Attendees who made it inside to see Ryan speak, passed through security and cramped into the warehouse. A stage had been set up between scaffolding that still held plastic-wrapped tractor equipment.
“I think he chose this venue to target the whole community, not just CSU students,” said Amanda McGowan, sophomore biology major.
Campus Republicans passed out 120 tickets to students on campus the day before Ryan’s speech, according to McGowan.
The crowd consisted mostly of middle-aged people but some children stood with their parents gripping Romney/Ryan campaign signs and a few college-aged attendees scattered through the crowd. There was also an area designated at the back for wheelchairs.
“I would have liked to see more students here,” freshman social work major Caitlin Riggs said. “This is one of the most important elections in history and I don’t think 18-24 year-olds understand the impact of their vote. I really didn’t see many college students here.”
Before speeches began, Jamie O’Neil sang hits like “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. She also changed the words of her own song, “When I Think About Angels” to fit the campaign message.
As attendees arrived, “When I think of angels I think of Paul Ryan,” could be heard echoing through the rafters.
Rachel Drechsler, senior political science major and treasurer for CSU Campus Republicans, was one of the people that introduced Mitt Romney’s running mate. She joined Campus Republican’s President, Brad Dick and Vice President Tyler Marr who also spoke.
“His values line up with what I believe,” Drechsler told the Collegian after the speech. “Romney and Ryan are going to help create a better America for tomorrow.”
Before elaborating on campaign goals, Ryan talked about how important it is for people to vote.
This election, he said, is especially important because of the lasting impact the incoming administration’s policy will have on the country.
“This is not an ordinary election,” Ryan said in his speech. “We are choosing the kind of country we will have for a generation.”
Ryan focused his speech on the importance of supporting small businesses, providing adequate healthcare, modifying welfare and changing foreign policy, with little mention of the youth vote or education.
“It’s starting to get down to statistics and facts, not just ideas,” junior economics major Marcus Giebel said.
Television screens on either side of the stage displayed graphs of the country’s debt increase since World War II and Ryan explained Romney/Ryan’s plan to fix the budget.
“He did a great job addressing the fiscal issues,” Riggs said. “I think this is a more fiscal election than a social one.”
Ryan said the unemployment rate has stayed above 8 percent for 43 months. He addressed the Romney/Ryan platform and their plan to remedy the unemployment rate as well as their support of family owned small businesses.
Education was mentioned very briefly in Ryan’s speech but CSU students in attendance understood that 18-24 year-olds were not his target audience.
“I don’t think it would help their campaign if they target us.” Riggs said. “Obama does that.”
Logan disagreed. “I think Obama has the upper hand but it would help if they got out and targeted us,” she said.
Toward the end of the election, Giebel said he expects the Romney/Ryan ticket to come to campus because the youth vote is so important and Fort Collins is a swing district in Colorado.
“If they really want to appeal to that 18-24 year-olds then they have to address that and have a strong stance about what they’ll do about higher education, loans, scholarships, and tuition hikes,” Riggs said.