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Wharton and College junior Charles Gray, who was elected president of College Republicans, hopes to get the group’s name out to freshman in the future.

As the Republican primary field continues to jostle around with potential candidates, many are already looking towards the 2012 election. Wharton and College junior Charles Gray, a Daily Pennsylvanian columnist and the newly elected president of the College Republicans for the next academic year, discussed his plans to expand the group’s membership base while maintaining an eye on the forthcoming Republican primary and elections.

The Daily Pennsylvanian: What are some of the main things you’d like to focus on this year? Charles Gray: What we need to do is expand our base of membership, focusing on the freshmen … By marketing the College Republicans in a really good way, I hope that we can expand our membership. I also want to do more regular events, bringing in issue-based speakers as well as candidates themselves. … This is going to be a big opportunity for the College Republicans, because this is our primary year for the presidential election, and you’ve got dozens of candidates all presenting very good ideas and somewhat different visions for the country.

DP: How do you plan to start preparing for the 2012 elections? Gray: We’re really going to focus on the primary, as well as issue-based things — about why the Republican vision, the focus on freedom and also the focus on tradition — is a better vision for the country than what is offered by the other side.

DP: In your opinion, what is the direction the country is moving in right now? Gray: I think the direction, in many ways, is troubling. There hasn’t been a whole lot of leadership from the White House — we have a major problem in our national debt, and they just seem to want to kick the ball to a playing field in the future and have other people pay for it and have it not solved … I am confident that our side will provide the leadership for a real solution in this country. That’s what makes the difference.

DP: In terms of the political dialogue on campus, how do you think less-represented viewpoints are received? Gray: I think there’s a lot of people who are Republicans who don’t express it because they’re worried about the repercussions they’ll get from their peers. I want to focus on moving beyond that and getting people to feel comfortable about who they are … despite the reputation of the political viewpoint that should be dominant in a university like this.

DP: How do you plan to expand your relationship with the Penn Democrats? Gray: I already have a very good relationship with the Penn Dems. I want to do some events during NSO with them and also during the year [such as] having issue-based events with them. The key is to keep it respectful — I’ve never said you can’t be passionate during these debates, you just have to be respectful.

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