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Newt Gingrich to speak at W&L mock convention

The Honorable Newt Gingrich

(The Roanoke Times) – Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich will speak next month at Washington and Lee University as part of the school’s mock political convention.

The convention, which will run from Feb. 11-13, has gained a reputation for correctly predicting the future nominee in 19 of 25 presidential elections since 1908.

Known as “Mock Con,” the student-run event seeks to accurately depict the political landscape once every four years, when it portrays the nominating process for the party not occupying the White House.

Organizers of this year’s Republican convention at W&L already have raised nearly $500,000 to research actual party procedures, book high-level speakers, and create a convention hall on campus. The convention will open with a parade through downtown Lexington.

“In an election cycle that has been tumultuous and at times trivialized, Mock Convention offers a breath of fresh air in that it showcases electoral analysis and engagement by young people,” Andrew McCaffery, general chair of the convention, said in an announcement from the school Wednesday.

“These students are truly excited to participate in presidential politics and this esteemed university tradition,” he said of an event that will feature more than 1,500 students acting as delegates.

Other speakers will include Ed Gillespie, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and 2014 U.S. Senate candidate, and Grover Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform.

In March 1996, while serving as speaker of the House, Gingrich was the keynote speaker at the 21st Mock Presidential Convention. The W&L students chose eventual Republican nominee and Kansas senator Bob Dole.

More recently, the convention accurately predicted that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would secure the Republican nomination four years ago. Gingrich was a candidate in that race.

The convention will open Feb. 11 with a 5 p.m. debate. It will continue the next day with a parade, followed by four convention sessions featuring speakers, presentations and voting that will wrap up on Feb. 13.

W&L will livestream all three days at its website, www.wlu.edu.

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