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WIU Students Called Republican Running Mates 12 Months Before Election

October 24, 2012

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MACOMB – As Election Day draws near, students involved in the 2011 Mock Presidential Election, "The Road to the White House Starts at Western Illinois University," can be proud that they chose the Republican side of the ticket months before it became a reality.

In November 2011, students involved in the mock election chose Barack Obama as the winner of the 2012 general election. But in a surprise move, they chose Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as his vice president, ousting Joe Biden.

Students also voted for the GOP ticket of Gov. Mitt Romney and Congressman Paul Ryan as the Republican nominees for the general election.

Current Student Government Association President Caleb Markey helped coordinate support for Romney, including campaign events and speakers.

"The first night of the mock election was primary night," Markey said. "Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford volunteered his time to come in and campaign for Gov. Romney. Through the work of our campaign team and the support of the treasurer, we were able to win the night and most of the delegates. This put us in the position as front-runner."

Markey gave a speech during the event on Romney's behalf and said the next step was to choose Ryan as a running mate.

"We chose him for the same reasons Mitt Romney did - he is an articulate spokesperson for solutions to our fiscal crisis," Markey said. "We wanted to make the debate about policy rather than politics. On a very liberal college campus, we only lost the general election by 6 percent. This speaks volumes to what Paul Ryan brought to the ticket."

The Mock Presidential Election idea was born in the mid-1970s when organizer and Honors College Interim Director Richard Hardy was a doctoral student at the University of Iowa. WIU Professor John Hemingway was also involved in the project as a teaching assistant and has been an instrumental part of the WIU events.

Hardy also held mock elections at the University of Missouri, before coming to Western.

Hardy said he believes the WIU event has since grown to be one of the most elaborate on a college campus anywhere. During the 2007 event, students again chose Barack Obama as the election winner, which at the time seemed like a long-shot choice.

Through the mock elections, Hardy said students learn a variety of lessons, including details about the Electoral College and Roberts Rules of Order.

"Students get a better view about what went on; a better understanding of the process," Hardy said. "Students get excited about the process."

For more information about the 2011 Mock Election, visit

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