College Republicans to Rally for Troops on Eve of Bush Speech

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:31pm EDT

( - On the eve of President Bush's sixth State of the Union speech Tuesday, hundreds of College Republicans around the country plan to rally in support of his stay-the-course strategy in Iraq.

Several hundred students are expected to gather Monday night in Washington, D.C., where Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will address the first "Finish the Job, Support the Troops" rally.

More than 100 local chapters of the College Republican National Committee (CRNC) will also host "watch parties" Tuesday night so students can watch and discuss the speech.

CRNC President Paul Gourley said College Republicans support Bush's "prudent and well-timed withdrawal of forces, which will engender long-term success." He criticized congressional Democrats, like U.S. Rep. John Murtha, who Gourley said is among those who "advocate a hasty retreat."

Gourley told Cybercast News Service that Monday's rally would not be negative and declined to comment further on leaders of the anti-war movement. "We want to be as positive and supportive of the troops as possible," he said, "so I don't think we're going to take time to necessarily play politics and take shots."

He said he does expect protests of the event and that "we support free speech for everyone, even those who disagree with the president's policy on staying the course. At the same time, I hope they realize that free speech is one of the very same rights that the president is working to provide for the Iraqi people."

According to Democratic National Committee (DNC) spokeswoman Amaya Smith, "several local chapters of the College Dems" will also be holding watch parties, but no central rally is planned by the group.

The DNC is sponsoring watch parties across the country Tuesday night, and Smith said college students are encouraged to attend those events.

Liberals will also hold a "World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime" protest rally near the Capitol reflecting pool during the speech Tuesday night.

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