Ted Cruz drew a crowd of 10,000 to the launch of his presidential campaign because student attendance was mandatory. A candidate who claims to love freedom spoke at a university where his audience was forced to watch him.
According to National Journal:
Sen. Ted Cruz took the stage to declare his presidential candidacy at Liberty University Monday, surrounded by upwards of 10,000 cheering students. They weren’t all here by choice. Attendance at convocation at Liberty is mandatory, and a group of students clad in “Stand With Rand” shirts sat center stage—directly in view of the cameras—to log their displeasure with having to be here.
“Of course, you want it to appear as if you have a large audience,” said Eli McGowan, who organized the not-so-subtle protest. “We felt like if we didn’t wear shirts showing our true political preference then the media might think we all supported Cruz.”
“They make you come. If you don’t come, you get punished,” said Ana Delgado, a sophomore, who said students face a $10 fine for not showing up at convocation. Delgado wasn’t among those wearing Paul gear. She is undecided about who she’ll support in 2016, but she didn’t like being forced to be part of Cruz’s announcement.
Students at Liberty University were forced to attend Ted Cruz’s launch of his presidential campaign, or they would be punished. That is Republican freedom in action. It will be interested to see what kind of crowd Cruz can draw when he is not forcing people to show up.
Usually, Republicans who can’t draw a crowd pay people to show up, or they fill the crowd with their own staffers. These were both tactics that Mitt Romney used during the 2012 election. Ted Cruz peppered his speech with references to freedom. The irony is that the people who were listening to him didn’t have the freedom to decide whether they wanted to be at his speech.
Sen. Cruz crusades against what he incorrectly views as the theft of liberty by the federal government, but one of the great ironies of all was the lack of freedom his audience had while Ted Cruz spoke a university named Liberty.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association