Marco Tarantino is the new president of the University of Tampa’s College Conservatives. He started his position as president this semester, taking over from Boston Ross, who graduated last spring.
This semester the club increased in numbers “from only four to five members last year to about 25,” said Tarantino, a junior. “Elections are always a bigger turnout for people.”
The goal of the club, as stated by Tarantino, is to unite people and foster conservative values and ideals. The club meets on Thursdays and they discuss upcoming events along with socials where they go out to eat and talk about Republican ideals. “Even though we are the College Conservatives we do a lot more or less with the Republican party,” Tarantino explained.
The club would have to go through a process of being federated in order to be considered a College Republican Club. “If we become a College Republican Club then we can’t get help from non-profit or non-affiliation groups,” said Tarantino.
Tarantino discussed several events the club has done this semester, including a voter registration drive. In the last three weeks, they have registered around 200 Republicans and independent voters, Tarantino said.
Members went to a Paul Ryan rally in Oldsmar on Sept. 15 and were caught on camera of a local news station as they stood right behind the vice presidential nominee during his speech.
When John McCain visited UT on Sept. 18, Tarantino was able to attend, while the club as a whole could not. “He is a very eloquent speaker,” he commented. “He was actually very funny. I didn’t expect that from him.”
The club also participated in phone banking on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at the Victory Office in South Tampa, calling people and telling them to “go out and vote.” According to Tarantino, they mainly “tell people who are independent why they should vote for Mitt Romney and why they shouldn’t vote for Obama.”
Members also canvassed neighborhoods as a way to reach out to people and persuade them to vote Republican. In two hours last weekend, Tarantino hit about 50 houses in the Temple Terrace area.“We get good responses,” he said. “You get to go face to face with the voter. See the people, where they live, what they’re like. It’s a little more personal than just calling them on the phone.”
In addition to being president of the College Conservatives, Tarantino has been active with local politics. He is currently working in a campaign for E.J. Otero, who is running for Congress in Florida’s 14th District as a Republican against incumbent Kathy Castor.
He has been helping Otero for the past eight to nine months. “A lot of the political stuff I learned, I learned from his campaign,” he said.
Back on campus, Tarantino’s hope for the club this year is to build its numbers. “Get the word out,” he said. “Be consistent. It’s hard to figure out what to do to keep people in the club. This is a problem with a lot of these political organizations. People usually jump on the bandwagon at the last moment of elections. You have to be creative. We want people to keep coming back.”
Tarantino plans to do this by bringing in guest speakers, such as state Rep. Rich Glorioso from Brandon, and helping with interest groups such as the NRA.
Paola Crespo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org