These Students ‘Stand with Rand’ at Ted Cruz’s 2016 Announcement

The Texan’s presidential announcement Monday had some party crashers.

Rand Paul supporters at Ted Cruz's speech at Liberty University, March 23, 2015.
National Journal
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Shane Goldmacher
March 23, 2015, 8:15 a.m.

LYNCH­BURG, Va.—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.

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“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.

After Cruz fin­ished his speech, the red-clad co­hort of Paul sup­port­ers wandered over to­ward the me­dia sec­tion and lingered for press in­ter­views. Lee Showal­ter is a 22-year-old Liberty stu­dent and a mem­ber of Young Amer­ic­ans for Liberty, a group that grew out of Ron Paul’s failed pres­id­en­tial cam­paigns. He said he showed up in Rand gear to “just show solid­ar­ity.”

(RE­LATED: Ted Cruz Opens 2016 As The Elec­tion’s Self-De­clared Con­ser­vat­ive Cham­pi­on

“Ted Cruz is nice,” Showal­ter said. But he thinks Paul would make “a bet­ter pres­id­ent.”

Chris­toph­er Crom­well, a 20-year-old sopho­more sport­ing a “Stand With Rand” shirt, said he was plan­ning to vo­lun­teer for Paul’s cam­paign and didn’t want to “make it ap­pear as though all the stu­dents sup­por­ted Cruz.”

McGow­an said the plan came to­geth­er “as soon as we heard” of Cruz’s big an­nounce­ment. They passed out about 50 shirts, he said, and quickly ran out. “They went like hot­cakes,” a girl wear­ing a Paul shirt chimed in.


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