Charlie Smith

[cnn-photo-caption image=
caption=”Charlie Smith, 24, is president of the College Republican National Committee.”]
Twenty-four-year-old Charlie Smith will speak at the GOP’s national convention alongside some of the most powerful Republican leaders in the United States. As of a week ago, he told us he was still working on his speech. “When they called me and told me it would be in prime-time on Thursday, I was surprised. But I think my message is simple for young people,” he says.

As the president of the College Republican National Committee, Charlie mobilizes conservative students across the country. With many of his friends serving overseas, he thinks one of the biggest issues this election cycle is national security. In fact, Charlie was compelled into his role after watching media coverage of 9/11.

Charlie isn’t sure if politics is in his future. For now, he likes pulling the strings from behind the scenes for a young constituency that people assume vote the other way. Oh, and still has to get to St. Paul for the convention. He’s driving with a group of students who have gone cross-country only driving in “red” districts. Alas, Charlie won’t be renting the car, because he’s not old enough.

Update: Watch the Live interview

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53 Responses to Charlie Smith

  1. L RUFFIN says:

    I would really like to know why Americans vote Republican at this point in time. I live in Tennessee, the old south, where some people still believe in the Jim Crow laws. I believe for the most part it doesn’t matter who gets into office, it will get worse before it gets better. Todays economy is too far gone to fix it overnight. It has been known and proven that John McCain issues are identical to George Bush. So if John McCain does get into office, we don’t need to hear the bellyaching and crying.

  2. Casey says:

    I repeatedly hear that the Bush Administration has kept us safe. How do you reconcile this with the fact that this administration ignored intelligence reports that Osama Bin Laden was determined to attack the U.S., potentially with hijacked airplanes? It is as if the Republicans want us to forget that the 9/11 tragedy happened on their watch, while they were “protecting” us. It is also cited that we haven’t been attacked since 9/11/01. By my math, that makes it eight years since the last terrorist attack in the U.S., if you don’t count the anthrax attacks. That’s almost exactly the time span between the ’93 World Trade Center bombings and the 9/11 attack. Would you be willing to admit that the Bush Administration is only now equal to the Clinton Administration at keeping the American people “safe”?

  3. Casey says:

    Wow, I guess my math isn’t so hot. It’s been seven years since the 9/11 attacks, but the point still holds.

  4. Dompycat says:

    Good luck for the speach Charlie. I’m interested why you think national security is the biggest issue affecting the country right now? We have a credit crisis in full swing, housing market collapse, record oil prices and an economy on its knees. Surely you realize that to the average American, making the next mortgage payment and filling the gas tank is his priorty right now.

    A cynic would think that its the biggest issue because it’s the only platform your nominee has to run on.

  5. Hughes says:

    Yeah, I’ve got a question for this guy. As I am of Generation X, and assuming he is of Generation Y, I’d like to know what on earth he thinks he can gain by voting Republican. I was doing better better at age 28 than I am at age 38, and I owe it all to George W. Bush and his cronies in the Republican party. We need to ignite the future, rekindle the mutual prosperity of the Clinton years, and elect Barack Obama as the figurehead of the executive branch. Four more years of Republican policies will put our nation into chaos.

  6. Walter says:

    I hate to burst your bubble but liberals and dems hate when those pesky things called facts get in the way of the lies they perpetuate. Under President Bush and his tax cuts, there has been more money put into the government’s coffers which has kept taxes lower than when Clinton was in office. As much as they want one desperately, we are not in a recession (remember kids, that’s when there are 2 quarters of negated gdp in a row). In fact we had growth last quarter of over 3%, despite the foreclosure and credit mess that the democrats who have been in control of the house and senate for 2 years did not foresee or do anything about until it was too late. Who in their right mind would vote dem.? They are partisan, liberal, put more effort into pleasing their left wing kook base, and definitely DO NOT put Country First. Also, how can McCain be the third term of President Bush when the democratic congress and senate rule the roost and will create their own America anyways. We can’t afford a second term of Carter which is what Obama would be and worse. At least Jimmy didn’t create a socialist society where the government provided everything to everyone and has to take everything from everyone to pay for it.

  7. Michael says:

    L Ruffin,
    You are buying into media hype. Become educated in business and economics and you can see through the garbage that spews from the hatred on the left. The left is founded in Socialism which contradicts our great Constitution. The country is not in bad shape at all right now. The only bad thing is the individual helplessness of PEOPLE in our country. Welfare recipients who refuse to comprehend the importance of education, the idiots who tried to buy more than they could afford caused the mortgage crisis, and the greedy short-sighted folks who roll on 22’s in their Escalades increase gasoline demand. The history of the world shows heating and cooling yet we are lead to believe that we cause global warming. The left thinks with their heart, yet they are the most hateful and bitter people I know. Second most bitter and hateful is the far right. John McCain is a moderate who crosses party lines without going off into these bitter lands. Don’t let the media take you there either.
    If you thing McCain is identical to GW, you don’t pay attention to politics.. you just watch CNN.

  8. Peter Carico says:

    Why in the name of everything American would you support the corrupt Republican Party? They are liars, cheats, hypocrites, philandering, pandering, money grabbing, jerks they don’t care about others , or this country and just plain morons and clones of the leadership. They are the most self serving , lying bunch of people ever in this country. How did you get fooled into believing in them? Your parents maybe? All Republicans are Stepford creeps and see no one beyond themselves, they even put up for consideration the most unintelligent and grossly compassionate lacking people for public office! I say march em all to New Orleans for the next big hurricane and let em drown, from the top of the party down. Feed em to the gators. Dump em for good this election cycle, they are running from the flag bearer of stupidity himself, GWB in droves, no one even wants to be seen with him, cant blame em, he embarrasses me too, just as an American! Bye bye Repubes!

  9. Selby says:

    Great work Charlie. I’m suprised that more college aged adults do not vote Republican. Regardless of who gets in office the main issues for our generation will be retirement and health care. I’m suprised at the lack of research done by many that support a universal health care. What is your response to people that say they are voting for Obama because they want “change”? If these people really did want change I would think they would want to change the balance in democratic congress with the 9% approval rate.

  10. BigDeal says:

    I would really like to know why some people are so self absorbed they can’t fathom why someone may have a different opinion from them and vote republican ticket. I live in Tennessee, Memphis area, where I’ve yet to meet anyone that I know of that still believes in the Jim Crow laws. For most part , we live our lives side by side, democrats and republican ticket voters alike. Whoever gets in office, it would be nice if the other side didn’t cry like a baby and say the other side cheated. Not calling names here, just sayin.

  11. Jonathan says:

    Charlie, why does the GOP not do more to show they do care about the needs of minorities. I expect you will give the same generic answer that all republicans give which is “we do care by not raising taxes”. If that is your answer, don’t bother.

  12. Rondo says:

    I wanted to ask this young man why in the world would you drive to the RNC through only RED states? What is the point? Do you hate the other side to the point that you can’t bring yourself to even drive through a state where the majority does not agree with you? I thought this country was about unity? I thought it was a good thing to be able to think outside of the collective and not be cast down or hated for doing so. I thought be an American was about doing what was best for this country and not just the colors you fly. I thought being an American was about truth of the matter and not what does it matter as long as I’m ok. Pick a side RED or BLUE, one is absolutely right and the other is absolutley wrong. Could it really be that simple? I think not. This country had better do what’s best for all of its citizens RED or BLUE and then we will become the great world example we could be.
    Young men like youself will change the world for the better if you’d only remember to consider all things.

    P.S. Drive through some BLUE states you’ll meet some great people. I’ve in a RED state and I think the people are just fine. Their all American class, including the RED ones.

    Have a great time at the RNC

    Yours United

    Citizen Rondo

  13. Tanji W says:

    As a 24 year old, it is so refreshing to see someone else my age think in a literal sense. It is really upsetting to know that so many people are swayed on politics because it is the trend and the thing to do. Liberals are continuing to show their insecurities and unintelligence as they riot the Republican National convention. It is just as big of an embarassment as Jane Fonda aka Hanoi Jane is to this country. Dont be fooled by “quirky” and “fun” slogans such as “Change we can Believe in”. By the way, what exactly does that mean. Has that really been specified??? What I think it means, is hey lets leave democracy and go for socialism!

  14. Cera says:

    Charlie, I would like to know how could you subscribe to the deceitful and delusional practices of the Republican party. This grand old party is just that, a reflection of old ways of thinking and old practices on what to do to try and win elections; scare the voting public into frenzy by promoting untruths to play on their fears. In other words, they do what they always do when they don’t have much to stand on, they use the fear factor. Also, did you take a look at the participants on stage and in the seats? Not that I have anything against old folks, but what a mighty white looking party. This shows poorly on the RNC to still in this day and age to only reflect a picture of white America and then ask other ethnicities to vote for them? I guess if you are white and to have a few token colors in the midst is sufficient, which screams out the RNC and John McCain are so out of touch with the American voting public and in spite of that, still a significant amount of white voters will vote for McCain. They will not do it for the policies he stands for, but strictly out of believing the fear factors painted on Barack Obama and the overriding factor no one seems to want to acknowledge, and that is they can not get over their racial prejudices to vote for a Black president. Fortunately, there will be enough that feel otherwise to counter these prevailing ills in our society.

  15. Cera says:

    Okay, one more point. I want to respond to the question pertaining to what does “change you can believe in” means? Barack has laid out the details so either you are not listening or reading, or you have a serious scotoma to the truth. What it means is he is offering a brighter future for America, not because of him, but because of you and all the other you’s in the country. He will simply lay thr frame work for hope and prosperity, the rest is up to us to make it happen. This is not about creatin a socialist society, but a society where we are not bickering over the future direction of the country. We focus on the things that we have in common or work to reach common ground. We then create a policital process to move forward even when we do not agree and not to make a decision is not an option.

  16. Dot Morris says:

    For over two centuries, we have had a white man to lead this country. Many whites in leadership roles have deem themselves superior to any other race. Now that we have an opportunity to elect a man of ‘color’; a man whom I believe is very much capable of bringing about a change, we as a minority will doubt ourselves and our ability to lead. By God, Obama has four years to make a change. If we as Americans have survived the struggle for the last eight years under the Republican party, let us Democrats join in prayer to God to make our party leader a man who will not only make history, but will also make a great change in our country and abroad. Minorities and supporters of Obama, we owe ourselves that opportunity to show the world that we are as superior as the leaders before us. I personally challenge us to go out on Nov. 4th in record numbers to elect Obama, the 1st and next president of the United States of America. United we stand, and divided we will fall!!!

  17. Ontaya says:

    I feel like our economy should be at the fore front altough the Republican’s want to ignore that issue because McCain has admitted he is clueless when it comes to the economy. I want to know what the Republican’s plan to do about turning around this economy if GOD FORBID they are put back in office.

  18. Hughes says:

    Since the U.S. government has spent $608 BILLION on the country of Iraq, is this what Republicans mean by “Country First”? Put Americans first instead of special interests and corrupt war profiteers.

  19. DJ says:

    I’m proud to see young people getting involved. But I have a question and want to know why is the Republicans trying to push this executive experience that Mrs. Palin has? The sitting President had exective experience in a far bigger state and see how he turned out. So this arguement to me is so flat. I guest if it’s talked up enough and the whimpy Democrates don’t do anything about it, then I think your party gets away with another election.

  20. Erik says:

    It is clear that there are racial undertones in many of the right-wing comments posted with this article. Tsk Tsk. Charlie, I’m afraid you’ve fallen into the same trap. WHITE AMERICA is petrified of Obama. Imagine that… I am caucasian I am for Obama – mainly because I am tired of Republican lies. (What’s the update on the Iraq weapons of mass destruction? Have they turned up yet?) McCain is indeed moderate, but HE MUST TOW THE PARTY LINE. This means he will continue to pursue the failed Bush socio-economic-political policies. Obama is the logical choice. I consider myself a Conservative Democrat – for Small and Focused government that takes care and protects people. No one is protecting us now economically, and we are overdrawn militarily in an illegitimate UNAMERICAN war in Iraq. Charlie, enjoy the wave while you can. The people are about to speak and they are not happy… P.S. Do you know what the largest growing social sector is in China? It’s the middle class. The group that is dwindling fast here in the U.S. Thanks for sending the jobs overseas, Republicans. NOW THAT IS UNAMERICAN.

  21. Libby says:

    Thanks Charlie for showing that not all young people follow lock-step in line with liberal thinking. Our country is a capitalist, not socialist country.

  22. Ms. Serevi says:

    Another White Male telling me that his beliefs should be mine. No way, no how….

  23. Carrie NY says:

    Hello Charlie! I am a 41-year old independant, and my “pet” issue has always been fiscal discipline—historically a conservative position. The Republicans are nowadays less conservative than the Democrats on this one however, since surpluses are more conservative than deficits, and tax and spend is more conservative than borrow and spend. Are young conservatives no longer interested in this issue? I worry that young people today will have no flexibility in the future on where their tax dollars go, because they will be paying off today’s debts. Are your kindred spirits concerned about this?

  24. KAB says:

    OK. I am an old white woman…so I said it. I will not vote for Obama and not because I am SCARED of a black man…but because

    1) I don’t want national health care…why let the gov f-up our health care system???
    2) I don’t support gay marriage…
    3) I don’t support abortion…
    4) Obama supports Jeremiah Wright…there are many black ‘ministers’ like Wright who spew as much hate as the KKK

    Thanks Charlie for having and using your brain. There is hope for the next gen.

  25. Mr. Big says:

    Wow it looks like there is alot of people intrested in the election some may know what they are talking about and yet others may not know what they are talking about i will hit on just one subject: 9/11 which is still on everyone’s mind and will be for sometime now there has been some comments on here saying that the republicans want us to forget about 9/11 i really dont know where you got that information from because if they wanted us to forget about it then they would have already sent the troops home and you sit here typing on your computers and you say that the reason for the attacks where because bush did not pay enough attention to them when he got into office have you read the book on the 9/11 attacks because i recall them saying that they first threat was sent in 1998 so how could bush pay attention to something that happend when he was not even in office if anything it should have been something that clinton handled while still in office i think he has done a really good job despite a few things that i really dont agree with but you will never have a president that you agree with 100 percent of the time……..

  26. Rick Watson says:

    When will America finally produce a genration of white men that aren’t scared stupid of losing the power they have abused for centuries? It’s time for change in this country and it needs to start with the election of Barak Obama and not more articles on spoiled white boys pulling immature stunts like “driving only through red states”. Grow up Junior!

  27. joe says:


    Speak on!!! I don’t feel safe at all. Constant invasion of privacy publically and privatley; security points, politicians who won’t answer questions, etc… Republicans are say they love america and want her safe., I ask them do they feel any safer???

  28. Jon says:

    Ruffin, I can’t vote for Obama because I’m not a socialist. In 2007, 42% of our federal budget went to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. If Obama becomes president, I’m guessing that socialist programs jump to over 50% of our federal budget. Being a federal employee, I see first hand how government handles money, wasting millions daily. We need less government, not more. Obama will tax the hell out of us.

  29. zuq says:

    Who is this guy? Who cares? I’m 22 and I’m voting for BARACK!

  30. Dagmar d'Surreal says:

    1) How do you feel about innocent civilans being assaulted with tear gas and rubber bullets all around the city?
    2) How do you feel about the illegal search and seizures that were executed this weekend prior to the convention?
    3) How do you feel about the area around the convention being turned into a police state?

  31. Frank says:

    Where is the diversity in the Republican party? This is a country built on diversity, and yet, the Republican party is so out of touch that they’re unable to represent what America really is and needs. I wish Charlie the best of luck on his speech. However, Charlie does not represent how diverse this country really is, therefore, once again pointing out how the Republican party is made out of white men. They’re most recently trying to stir up things but appointing Sarah Palin as their vp nominee, but sadly enough, they’re using her to try to lure evangelical and Hillary voters. When will someone lure “change” so we can get out country out of the toilet? 8 years of Bush was enough Republican in the White House for my taste. NO MORE!

  32. DBH says:

    Wow! I am amazed that the liberial universities actually allow Charlie to speak, 72% of professors say they are liberial. The media has even a larger percentage of liberial verses conservatives. Please people, before you condemn the republicans for things the medias says, get your facts straight.

  33. Robb says:

    It doesn’t matter what he or anybody else speaking about gov’t says. The rich will always want control of the masses. Why is there never an average, hard working, HONEST man or woman running for political office? It is all about money…Their money. They have it and they want to keep it, and make alot more. If you are not rich, your opinion doesn’t matter. Just go to work, pay them your taxes and don’t question authority. Am I right rich people? I dare any politition to to sit with me in front of the nation and answer a few very simple questions.

  34. Robb says:

    Hey CNN..I didn’t think you would post my comment. As a U.S. citizen don’t I have an opinion? I think China was right about you guys. You (CNN) certainly are part of the problem.

  35. Kent, Illinois says:

    The real issue this year is the economy. Republicans would like us to think it is War. Why should people vote Republican when Bush has ignored the Constitution which everything US is founded on?

  36. obama says:

    hey i like hockey to the flyers are real good. so let me run for president because i can also knock up some ones unwedded daughter. go coservative christian family oriented republicans see you in another 4 yrs maybe the mcbush can wheel his hovaround to the RNC

  37. Frank Thompson says:

    I am a liberal (i.e. open-minded) as opposed to a conservative (i.e. closed minded). Being a traditional Republican I feel like someone with no party.
    I am not excited at all over the prospect of voting for a Democrat. But what am I to do with the Republican candidate having sold out to the Christian Taliban and his choice for Veep being a Christian Taliban as is the Republic establishment who have controlled Congress for almost a decade
    and led us to our present state of affairs. Thousands of our best have lost their lives fighting against the Muslim Taliban while we have a Christian Taliban as our President.
    Frank Thompson
    Milledgeville, GA

  38. MR.T says:

    if conservative christian republicans would get Bush’s stick out of you asses and realize he hasnt done a damn thing in 8 yrs as pres except send our young men and women into a war the has costed u the tax payers 10,000,000,000 dollars a mnth to fight over freakin oil. then maybe you would have been more opened minded if you watched Barack Obama’s speech. He came from a poor family and worked his way up to get where he is today. He wasnt born with a golden spoon in his mouth like cindy mccaine aand john mcbush. So why dont you open your minds and look at the fac ts and the platforms each canidate runs on. look at the economic and foreign policy plans and the if you still want to vote for Graandpa Mccane and hockey mom Palin the go ahead.

  39. Alfonso, Connecticut says:

    First of all there is absolutely nothing wrong with our economy, its working great. The reason why everyone thinks we have a bad economy is because we are being brainwashed by the media, it’s the same thing with global warming. This are the strategies that our government and the army for example uses to brainwash us and make us think how they think, this term is called “politically conservative” and it basically means that we follow whatever the media tells us whatever our government tells us and sometimes it might be true and other times it might not be true. Now about China and their economy I mean they are a good stable country with a pretty good economy but in case some of you did not know China makes only 1/5 of capital compared to how much we make. Don’t get worried because everything is made in China but people this is what we want! We want them to make all the products for the simple reason that you don’t make any money by manufacturing the product, the money is made by selling the product so this is exactly what we want them to do.
    Also speaking about the elections, I am personally an Obama fan but you should never trust a person, you cannot say that this person is going to be a great president until he has reached tremendous goals as a president. Obama likes to speak about change and people like to hear that because we live in a society that likes to speed up things and we easily get bored of the same thing but we have to be careful with the word change because it’s very dangerous. Its dangerous because when you change something it always makes an impact in different types of groups and different types of things for example we are a country that is well respected and to be honest with you feared and by letting the republicans leave, the whole way that countries are going to think about us (good or bad) may change a lot, we might even be feared less. I’m not a big Bush fan but I give him his credits, for seven years after 9/11 we have not been attack by any terrorists or any kind of cult and that is because of the persistence of President Bush.

  40. Thomas says:

    Obama’s “Hollywood Washington”
    Economy – Obama Raises Taxes
    Terrorists – Obama runs and hides
    Either issue – Obama is a soundbite

  41. Lisa says:

    Boy, some people just lap up the spin and lies like my 7 yr old son licks his ice cream bowl. This GOP convention is sick. I can’t believe that any self-respecting, educated college student could actually be involved with it. Hopefully this guy has been listening and watching over the past couple of days and he will get up there and at the last minute scream, “Vote for Obama!!”

    My fingers are crossed but not holding my breath…

  42. Solomon Oduh says:

    No need debating over and over again about this issue because Rep has succeeded in turning this country’s economy upside. I’m shocked to read what folks have to say about the Rep; is it that they are blindfolded or what. Anyways is so pathetic and sad. But all we need in this country is a good president that will be able to stabilize the country’s economy and put smile on people’s face once again; we need to sit think and decide what it is that American really wants.

  43. Solomon Oduh says:

    Americans need to sit down, medicate and decide on what they really want because I’m beginning to think that the are blindfoled with this dirty politics. Let us stand up and face the reality than shying the truth away.

  44. M says:

    It’s new era. Another Republican for another 4 or 8 year???? How many years do they want? It’s time to do something different. Time to teach Republican a lesson or they never learn. They think they are untouchable, all that, and so out of touch w/ regular people. Just look at Karl Rove, geez. Housing crisis, credit crisis, high oil price are ALL under Republican’s 8 years, stop blaming someone else. AND stop using the national security issue, that’s only one of several issues facing this country, ya, only one of them. It’s like if you are not a Republican, you must NOT love this country, what kind of crap is that. Stop fooling people cuz people know better. Time to make a change.

  45. Johnson says:

    What does he know? he is only 24 and has not experienced what other ppl experienced (ie, going to war, got house foreclose, losing job, can’t pay bill). Grow up and look at regular people closely, they are not all that rich who can take a hit. BTW, why don’t u just join army to fight for your country if you so belive in Bush (i dare you to do it). Going to RNC make a news story, what a joke.

  46. Greg says:

    How did everyone like the negative tone, and lack of substance of Palin?

    She has gotten a pass this week from the Press. But after the convention we will all know who she really is. She was a vetted for 36 hours. I cant wait till they bring forward the real Palin and all of her governmental talents. You poor republicans will soon be very very sad.

    Did anybody notice the republican buttons, hot governor from a cool state. Isnt that sexist? I think it is. Well have a nice night, love to hear what you republican “nio idea, no solution party has to offer”.

    You all suck. Your party sucks, your beliefs suck. McBush Sucks, and all your convention lies will not fool the American Public. Ha Ha HA

    Just wait suckers!! OBAMA/BIDEN 2008

  47. Matt California says:

    Keep up the good work! Many young people will be voting for McCain because he is the right choice for America!

  48. Sharon says:

    Ok, now what. We have a pit bull with lipstick. This will not sway women as they are too intelligent. Women rights can not be put aside just because they assume women must have a women elected by any means necessary. I find that insulting. Attacks, no solutions.

  49. Mark RamseyMD says:

    And I was hoping that things would be different with the next generation 😦

  50. Donald Washington says:

    Republicans are the only ones in history to loss thousands of jobs opposed to creating them. This last administration has lost more jobs than the great depression, and still counting. 800,000 this year alone, but republicans can care less, as long as they stay rich. The republicans are for the RICH and the RICH only! This country has been going downhill in every aspect for the last 8 years and it’s a shame its people dumb enough to still after record breaking jobs loss, hundreds of thousands innocent Iraq’s dead, record breaking Foreclosure, record breaking gas prices, social security, taxes all destroyed the American dollar down, the stock market gone, the price of food, 9/11, Katrina anything you could possibly name the republicans have failed, including our military and foreign relations with other countries. EVERYTHING they have done has failed who in their right mind would still vote republican and why???

  51. sami h, new york. says:

    I dont agree with many people below me, or above. I think that Bush has been a great president for our country, and that people should respect him for who he is, instead of just stating the negatives about him.He hasdone a great job of protecting our country, and i hope the upcoming president will do the same. Bush is a great president, and i wish he didnt have to go. I want our country to be safe, for the rest of my life. And i dont want a president ruining it with the high gas prices, or any negative issues. ALSO; i really want this to be on student news! (:

  52. Mahendra says:

    Bush with his policies did some harm to US, it is his decision to invade Iraq in vengence to 9/11 attack that started the some harm to US, loosing its position around the world, then subsequently try to cover the costs, the humiliation because of war lead to a poor governance. That is not what expected of a president when at hard times. Lets except some good composure president.

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