By Barbara Bent
Donald Trump earned the 26th annual Mock Convention nomination Saturday night at Washington and Lee University.
Donald Trump addressed Mock Con via telephone moments after the convention nominated him for president.
He received over 53 percent of the delegations’ vote, compared to Ted Cruz, who received 26 percent. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin received the honorary Vice President nomination.
The Warner Center buzzed with activity from Friday as W&L students, faculty and other visitors gathered to take part in the historic tradition. Every four years, W&L students predict the presidential nominee for the party out of power, and they have been correct 19 out of 25 times.
One by one, leaders of the 56 delegations stood to pronounce their individual nominations, casting the number of delegate votes from each state. It is an exciting moment that is the result of countless hours of research for Mock Con.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” said W&L student Katie Barnes, a senior, “but it’s so cool to see how these students have worked so hard to see how the four years paid off.”
Balloons rained down from the ceiling amid the sound of confetti canons as students cheered for the adjournment of the 2016 Mock Convention.
Trump addressed the convention by phone to thank students for their hard work and say how honored he felt to receive such a nomination.
He also tweeted: “Wow! Honored to be chosen by the highly respected and accurate Washington and Lee Mock Convention. I hope you are right—I will make you proud!”
Following the adjournment, country music artist Lee Greenwood surprised spectators by singing his hit song, “God Bless the U.S.A.,” over recorded background music.
This year’s Mock Con kicked off with a moderated discussion on “The Ethics of Citizenship” in Lee Chapel on Thursday evening. Friday morning, members of the community gathered to watch the Delegates’ Parade in downtown Lexington, where students rode down Main Street on handmade floats.
The Wisconsin delegation celebrated the state’s dairy heritage during the Friday morning Mock Con parade in Lexington.
The real action took place in Warner Center, where on Friday afternoon, Kristen Solis Anderson, Grover Norquist, and Bob Ehrlich spoke during session one. Session two featured Rep. Bob Goodlatte, National Review editor Rich Lowry, political commentator Ann Coulter, and former Vice President Dick Cheney, who reflected positively on George W. Bush and his part in the war in Iraq.
On Saturday, session three kicked off with W&L alumnus Garland Tucker III, pro-life activist Lila Rose, former Republican Party leader Ed Gillepsie, Heritage Foundation economist Steve Moore, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
“Gingrich was wonderfully engaging and wanted us to be an active part of what he was talking about,” said Jennifer Heibig ’16. “His talk was geared towards our generation without being condescending.”
Rose reflected on a wide range of opinions, making many comments about her views on abortion. Tucker reminisced on his own experiences with Mock Con and about the history of Washington and Lee as an institution.
Session two featured the keynote speaker, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, followed by Roll Call and the nomination. Bevin, a W&L alumnus who grew up in a family of eight in rural New Hampshire, worked in dining services at the university, where he met who he claimed to be some of the greatest people at the institution.
Bevin reminisced on his years at W&L, including the night he got to spend at the Lee House, which houses the university’s presidents. He spoke of how moved he was that night absorbing the powerful history of the institution and how thrilled he was to be a part of it at the Mock Con.
Bevin challenged students in the crowd to be shepherds instead of sheep; to lead instead of follow. That is how one becomes successful.
Both Bevin and Gingrich had positive words to say about the mock GOP platform created by Mock Con’s Platform Committee. Bevin said it encompassed the core principles of his keynote address.
Overall, the weekend was a success for W&L students. “It makes me want to be more politically informed and prepares for the election,” said Lydia Barit ’16.