The University of Georgia College Republicans hosted Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston at their meeting Oct. 5.
The College Republicans have previously invited many government officials to come speak at their meetings, including John Padgett, Chairman of the Georgia GOP and several state legislature representatives.
At the event, Ralston spoke at length before answering a few questions from members of the club, beginning first with his past at the university.
“This is a special place for me. A few years ago, maybe a few more, I got my law degree here,” he said. “I love seeing the changes an how the campus has grown an standards have risen.”
Ralston, a Republican, spend a lot of his time discussing the image of his party.
“I often tell people that as we get older, we all change. One of the ways I’ve changed is that I’ve become less patient in many things, and one of those things is negativity,” he said. “In today’s political climate, the vitriol seems to get worse and worse each year.”
Ralston said the mudslinging that has gone on does not properly represent the Republican party.
“That’s not what I believe our party is about, and I hope you would agree with me that’s not what our state is about or our nation is about,” he said.
The Georgia Speaker of the House emphasized the importance of communication with others.
“The Republican Party going back to President Lincoln has always been a party of optimists,” he said. “Speaking with the opposition, having that open dialogue, doesn’t make you weaker; it makes you stronger. You earn trust, a mutual respect. You build relationships with people who think different than you do.”
Ralston then pivoted to a local focus, inviting those in attendance to be politically active in re-electing U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, whose Senate seat is up for election this year.
“If you want an easy way to get involved, I invite you to work with me in getting an individual re-elected to the U.S. Congress, Senator Johnny Isakson, one of the finest men in public life that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing,” he said. “We were both Republican long before it was cool to be Republican.”
Community outreach chairs Caitlin O’Dea and Katharine Monroe spoke to The Red & Black about being on the board of the College Republicans during this election year.
O’Dea pointed out heightened interest.
“We’ve had more people come up to us at tabling who are more interested in Republicanism,” she said. “They’re interested in the presidential election, as well as a lot of the big names we have come talk, like Speaker Ralston.”
Manroe, a junior international affairs and communications studies major, discussed the range of speakers who have been invited by the College Republicans.
“Because college kids have such a variety of views, the term republican and liberal does not mean you hold just one stance,” she said. “That’s important that we try to have diversity and represent different shades on the spectrum.”
Ralston closed his presentation by highlighting legislative achievements during his time in office.
“I am pleased that during the time I have been honored to lead the House, we have made significant reform in immigration, taxes, unemployment and many other places,” he said. “Just a few weeks ago, Georgia was ranked the number 1 state in the nation to do business in for the third consecutive year. We’re making improvements to our infrastructure, and rewarding state officers who do well.”