Since Sunday, 22 percent of the student body has signed a petition to bring Rep. Ron Paul (R., Texas) to Hillsdale.
Kyle Forti and Mike Morrison are leading the effort to bring the presidential candidate to speak on campus. So far, 315 students have signed the petition. Forti and Morrison have met with the administration about logistical issues, found a potential sponsor for the talk (the Classical Liberal Organization), and worked to coordinate efforts with the Hillsdale County grassroots group that supports Paul.
Forti keeps the campaign updated on the petition’s results. If Paul comes to campus, it will probably be before Michigan’s primary on February 28.
“It’s up to us to show the Paul campaign that we have the support to warrant his trying to come out and visit,” Morrison said.
A stop from the OB-GYN-turned-presidential candidate is far from certain –– there has to be space for a speech, the administration has to give the talk a go-ahead, and Paul’s campaign has to be persuaded that there’s enough support in Hillsdale to make a visit worth fitting into its tight schedule.
But despite the challenges, Forti is optimistic about the possibility of a speech from the candidate.
“I think there’s a great chance that something positive could work out,” he said.
Forti started Hillsdale’s Youth for Paul chapter in December. Since then, it has grown to 68 members, becoming the second largest chapter in the state.
Paul isn’t just popular on campus. He won 17 percent of the Hillsdale County vote when he ran for president in 2008, making it his most supportive Midwestern county.
Since 2008, his nationwide support has grown. Forti is one of many converts who have flocked to his camp.
“I used to be an ardent non-Ron Paul supporter, a Ron Paul hater,” he said. “Back in 2008, I probably would have supported anybody but the good doctor because I thought his supporters were nuts, I thought they were crazy.”
Since then, though, he said he became disillusioned with how the right wing communicates its political message.
“What I’m attempting to do is avoid propaganda, and that led me to support Ron Paul because I see just as much propaganda from the other [republican] candidates as I do with Barack Obama,” he said.
Forti said that despite Paul’s slim chance of winning the Republican nomination, supporting his campaign is important.
“I’m not so starry-eyed and Paul-Bot to assume he’s going to pull off a miracle,” Forti said, “but the primaries are for supporting a candidate who you most identify yourself with and who you can get behind in principle, and that’s what we’re doing here.”