- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2000

PHILADELPHIA More than 600 young Republicans from all 50 states and three territories have come to voice their opinions at the Republican National Youth Convention.
Their youth convention runs in conjunction with the 37th Republican National Convention this week, and the participants want America to know they are not indifferent to politics.
"It's important that our kids go to the polls and believe our senators, representatives and our president are listening," says Catherine Pulley, press coordinator for the Republican National Youth Convention.
"They're worried about health care, education, retirement and the future," Ms. Pulley, 26, says.
Although many will vote for the first time in November and others have been out to the polls only once, their concerns mirror those of their parents. Dressed in khaki pants, white, oxford shirts and navy blue blazers, they look like an assembly on an Ivy League campus.
But don't be deceived.
Young people are stereotyped, stamped as being rebellious and tied "to liberalism and radicalism," Brett Johnson, 21, says. "But the passion for ideas is at its height at this level," the Littleton, Colo., resident declares.
The students have heard from a variety of speakers, including Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, Mississippi Republican, and the nephew of the Republican candidate, George P. Bush, 24.
The young Republicans, who are serving as pages for the delegations, are intent on becoming politically savvy.
"The Republicans are making a concerted effort, doubling our budget for the first time in 15 years," says Scott Stewart, 24, chairman of the College Republican National Committee. "Most of what we are interested in is education and social security," he says.
The Social Security system will be insolvent by the time he is eligible, Mr. Stewart says. "We believe more in UFOs than Social Security."
But if elected, Gov. George W. Bush would push to give people the option of investing a portion of their Social Security taxes in personal retirement accounts, an innovation some of the youths believe would save Social Security.
Julie Thrasher, 24, says she believes in the public school system. The Florida State University graduate hopes her children will attend public school. But she's worried about violence.
"I want my kids to have public education. But in public schools, I worry about guns and violence," Thrasher says. She's the daughter of Florida State House Speaker John Thrasher.
In answer to such concerns, Mr. Bush's platform includes a provision that might solve the problem. He suggests a program that would allow children attending crime-ridden schools to transfer to other schools that their parents might choose.
Miss Thrasher, a resident of Orange County, Fla., considers the presidential hopeful's incentive program for teachers, which includes tax deductions and loan forgiveness, another answer to the problem.
"Teachers deserve more and schools need more teachers that care about children," Miss Thrasher says.
Ida Wahlquist-Ortiz, 18, of Tyson's Corner, Va., is spokesperson for the Hispanic Republican Youth an organization that unites young Hispanics during the Republican National Convention. She says she chose the Republican Party because of its strong family values.
"As Hispanics, we are very united to our families," she says, adding, "The Republican Party is a party of ideas, principles and dignity."

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