Patched with duct tape and faded to a putrid orange, a massive inflatable ass loomed over the plaza Thursday.
The donkey, owned by the Larimer County Democrats who loaned the dummy to CSU Young Democrats for their first event of the year, has seen better days.
“The Republicans are going to be jealous,” said Young Democrats secretary Joshua Covington. “They’re going to want a giant elephant.”
The Lory Student Center Plaza was full of progressive student organizations Thursday as CSU College Republicans rallied for U.S. troops, Marine Corps recruited, soldiers spoke in favor of military efforts in the Middle East and local politicians advocated their campaigns.
President Brendan Durkin and Rep. Byron Moore of the CSU Young Democrats drove to Wellington Wednesday to pick up the monster beast of burden from a farm where the Larimer County Democrats keep the blow-up statue.
“This is kind of like our coming out party – we’re coming out and saying that we’re still relevant,” said Joshua Covington, Young Democrats secretary.
The Republican’s campaigned for student support for the U.S. military presence in Iraq, calling students over loudspeaker to write letters that they will send to the troops. The effort calls attention to Veteran’s Day, which is on Sunday.
Bobby Carson, editor in chief of the Ram Republic, a monthly right-wing newsletter that comes out today, said many troops in Iraq are affiliated with CSU and there is great need for CSU support.
The College Republicans will continue their event today as they celebrate the release of the second issue of the Ram Republic. This month’s issue includes a special Veteran’s Day section with articles by troops, including Brian Ivers, a Fort Collins police officer who served three tours in Iraq with the National Guard and spoke at Thursday’s event.
Ivers asked students to appreciate military sacrifice during Veteran’s Day.
“George Patton once wrote that he did not mourn the fact that soldiers had died in combat; instead, he thanked God that those soldiers had lived so that they could protect the freedoms that we all enjoy,” Ivers said.
“So today, tomorrow and during the weekend, when you’re having that beer at that party, when you’re looking around at the sporting event that you’re attending, take a moment, take a second, to remember those that have died for your freedom, those that continue to serve, those that have served in war and in peace,” he added.
The Young Democrats held a variety of activities all centered around their giant orange equine figure. Durkin said their goal was to promote Democratic politics with elections just around the corner. He planned the rally late last week in conjunction with the Republican’s event.
They invited representatives from the Barrack Obama presidential campaign, State Rep. John Kefalas’ (D-Fort Collins) bid and arranged a special appearance from Betsy Markey, who is running for Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, which includes Fort Collins.
Markey said she welcomed the opportunity to come support CSU’s Young Democrats and their massive donkey, saying that this isn’t the donkey’s first appearance on campus.
“That donkey’s been around here for years,” she said. “It was here for the 2004 election.”
Her campaign has traveled the entire district, and she has talked with people about every controversial issue, trying to get the public’s opinion, she said.
The most prominent issues on the docket are health care, the environment and the U.S. presence in Iraq, which Markey said Colorado residents are particularly upset about. Everyone she talked to emphasized the need for a strategy to end our military efforts in Iraq, she said.
Another hot topic, especially among students, is rising tuition costs, which Markey has felt herself as a parent of two college students.
“When I went to college in the 70s, I paid $9 a credit hour,” she said.
Students are upset about paying nearly 20 times that amount because of reduced higher education funding in the state, Markey said.
Markey supported the College Republican’s letter-writing campaign.
“That’s a thing we can all get behind and support no matter what party you’re in,” she said.
The donkey struck Carson as comical, but he said it was healthy to have a variety of political views represented on the plaza on the same day.
“If you want to get noticed, that’s definitely a good way to do it,” Carson said of the donkey.
Assistant news editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at email@example.com.