National and local Republicans gathered at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics Monday to discuss how to reverse the party’s struggle to attract young voters.
The event, “Youth Advisory Council Roundtable with RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel,” featured Republicans of different generations: four members of Generation Z, three Millennials, one Gen Xer, and one Baby Boomer.
Ronna McDaniel and Congresswoman Kathryn “Kat” Cammack (R-Fla.) represented the RNC. McDaniel was the ranking Republican present, but it was Cammack, chair of the RNC’s Youth Advisory Committee, who college-aged attendees swarmed after the event. She stayed to talk politics with her new fans.
At 35, Cammack is among the younger members of Congress.
“Focus on policy, not on politics,” Cammack told NHJournal. “That’s who we engage younger voters. Bidenomics doesn’t work; it’s balling on a Burger King budget. We need to promote policies that empower people, not handcuff them.”
Asked what her response would be to a college student who dismissed the GOP as the “old guy’s party,” Cammack shot back, “No, we’re the Grand Opportunity Party. We want equal opportunity, not equal outcomes.”
Cammack is a co-founder, along with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), of the Campus Free Speech Caucus and is launching a Young Republicans Caucus.
One issue addressed during the roundtable: abortion.
Cammack asked, “Should Republicans talk more or less about abortion in national politics?” Only a small minority of attendees supported more discussion of abortion.
However, both McDaniel and Saint Anselm College Republican president Mac Connors defended the focus on abortion. Connors said, “We have to respond to the issue. The Republican Party is the party that stands for life.”
State party chair Chris Ager also participated in the roundtable. He told NHJournal that Republicans are doing more than just talking.
“We don’t view young voters as Democrat voters. We are actively going to go after them, listening to their concerns, and trying to implement policies that address them. And the Young Republicans and College Republicans have created a task force so they can work together to bring in younger voters.”
Aside from abortion and attacks on the economic impact of Bidenomics, the roundtable mostly focused on how to achieve electoral success rather than specific initiatives or legislation. Cammack described the youth-Republican dynamic as a “situationship.”
“The identifying process is going to be really important in finding out what issues people care about most. And then really making sure people understand where we stand on those issues— we can beat the Democrats all day long on economic policy.
“I can’t tell you how many people are saying, ‘When it comes to social issues, I’m more moderate, or I’m more liberal. But, when it comes to fiscal issues, I hate taxes,’” Cammack added.
A multi-generational group of New Hampshire Republicans was also represented on the panel. State Rep. Joe Sweeney (R-Rockingham) was a participant, as was Saint Anselm College Republicans President Mac Connors, state College Republicans Chair Harrison Spalthoff, and New Hampshire Young Republicans Chair Virginia Drye.
Sweeney told NHJournal he saw a room full of future leaders at the event.
“Young people are great canvassers and phone bankers, but we make even better candidates. When young Republicans get involved and speak from the heart, they can clearly articulate why they’re fighting for a conservative future and why it matters.”
Asked what was accomplished at the RNC event, Connors told NHJournal, “The first way to solve any problem is to figure out what the problem is. This roundtable and other events of this nature are going to help solve the hemorrhaging of youth voters to the Democrats. While this goal is not near finished, these events are a necessary first step in this endeavor.”