College junior Anthony Cruz was elected president of Penn College Republicans last month. The former Democratic congressional intern, who supports bipartisan dialogue, wants to bring more Republican speakers to campus this year.
The Daily Pennsylvanian sat down with Cruz to talk about his plans for the coming year.
The Daily Pennsylvanian: How did you first get involved in the College Republicans?
Anthony Cruz: I first got involved in not only College Republicans but also general Penn political life at NSO my freshman year. There was an NSO event held — a kind of quizzo night — and that’s where I first met members of the College Republicans, and Dems as well. That’s when the College Republicans asked me to come on as a freshman representative because they saw how I was very enthusiastic about politics.
DP: What made you want to run for president?
AC: I was a freshman representative my freshman year, and for the last two years [I’ve served] as the political director. I thought … with my leadership and experience here I should do my best to have a fair balance of political views between Republicans and Democrats.
I should also mention that I am the co-chair of the Penn Political Coalition, [which is] the umbrella group for all political groups on campus … I’m really trying to help in my capacity as co-chair and as president of the College Republicans to encourage political activism on campus and work with the administration.
DP: Do you have any plans for activism and events this year? What things do you want to see the College Republicans do?
AC: Definitely. We have some speakers planned. Obviously nothing’s official until it happens, but former Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker, who served from ’01 to ’03, has agreed to come in February. Former Congressman Mike Oxley who was responsible for the Sarbanes-Oxley Bill of 2002, a monumental financial services reform — I’m sure that it will attract interest from the Wharton School. Other Congressmen in the area we’re still waiting on.
DP: What is one issue you want the College Republicans to focus on this year?
AC: That’s a good question. I think the stereotypical college student says they’re fiscally conservative and socially liberal, as I am myself, and we always like to focus on fiscal issues, and I think that that really resonates with many students here at Penn and there’s controversy right now in Washington about how the economic numbers look.
DP: Going back to you, how politically active were you before coming to Penn?
AC: I tried to be. I volunteered in 2009 … for Mayor Bloomberg’s re-election campaign [in New York]. I also interned for my congressman, Eliot Engel, who is actually a Democrat. I get along with Democrats and Republicans both. It’s unfortunate that in today’s political environment it’s almost like a taboo to be [seen as] working for the other side, or even just to be friendly with them.
Some of my Republican colleagues may ask me, ‘You worked for Democrats?’ And I say, ‘Yes, I did work for a Democrat, and I still visit the office and I have the highest respect for them.’ There’s such a thing as good Democrats and good Republicans from both sides — that’s my philosophy. I’m a liberal Republican from New York; you could even say I’m a moderate Democrat almost. God forbid someone says that today in Washington, but that’s the truth for me: I work with both sides.
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