Young Republicans 'get party started' at D.C. convention
Rallying college students, DeLay warns them about a 'disturbing liberal psychology'

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - They may be done cramming for exams, but the hundreds of College Republicans who gathered in Washington this weekend are hardly done with their assignments.

At a hotel just a few miles from the White House, the College Republican National Committee kicked off its biennial convention with a roster of high-powered GOP speakers meant to rally the fresh-faced troops in advance of the 2006 midterm elections.

After all, the College Republicans are viewed as a critical part of the GOP's grass-roots stampede and, as always, the source for the next generation of Republican leaders.

The CRNC, which many call the Crank, has nearly 200,000 members nationwide and has raised $20.1 million since 2001.

In the 2003-04 election cycle, the group raised $12.8 million, ranking it 12th in the nation among so-called 527 groups, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, which tracks money in elections.

Drawing scrutiny
The group's fund raising has generated some scrutiny, with reports showing that a portion of the money was received from elderly donors who were pursued with misleading appeals.

Regardless of such troubles, the convention began Friday with a fiery speech from House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Sugar Land, who arrived at the podium to a standing ovation.

In front of a banner reading, "We get the party started!", DeLay, like other speakers at the Friday event, rallied the young Republicans with harsh words about the Democrats.

"The trend isn't just about liberal rhetoric, it's about a disturbing liberal psychology," DeLay said. "A bizarre, knee-jerk reflex to assume the world's worst problems are America's fault."

DeLay also defended White House adviser Karl Rove, who came under fire for a New York speech he made Wednesday in which he accused "liberals" of wanting to "offer therapy and understanding for our attackers" after the Sept. 11, 2001, strikes.

DeLay said: "That is not slander, that is the truth."

Also speaking Friday to the College Republicans were former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

T-shirts talk

But there was some levity at the convention.

The hordes of students mingling in the hallways during the speeches could buy T-shirts with pictures of Uncle Sam saying, "Only you can prevent political correctness!" and buttons saying, "God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" or "I only sleep with Republicans."

The conference helped Jordan Brown, a 21-year-old Houstonian entering his senior year at Texas A&M University, decide whether to join the College Republicans when he gets back to school after finishing his summer internship in Washington.

He said: "I definitely am."