With primaries for the presidential election just around the corner, political groups have been trying to get candidates to come to campus. But so far, few have taken the bait.

As part of Georgetown’s 2008 Presidential Candidate Lecture Series, the Lecture Fund sent invitations to each of the 17 declared presidential candidates to speak on campus. So far, only Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.) has accepted the invitation.

Assistant to the University President for Federal Relations Scott Fleming (SFS ’72) emphasized that all of the 17 candidates have been invited to campus, each receiving the same treatment.

“Most of these candidates aren’t spending time in Washington,” Fleming said, adding that this is a possible reason why the Lecture Fund is having difficulty securing many acceptances. “We make absolutely certain that each invitation is the same and we handle each candidate the same, whether they are at the top of the polls or the bottom,” he said.

Fleming said that he thinks that as the campaigns progress, candidates will be more willing to accept. “Once the field narrows, I think we have a good chance of having the candidates come to campus,” he said.

Adam Feiler (SFS ’09), communications director for GUCD, said that the candidates have been mostly campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, and that he hopes that at least one more will schedule a speech before the end of the primary process.

“It will be much tougher in the coming month or so to get people here, so that’s probably unlikely,” Feiler said.

Feiler said that Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) had scheduled a speech on campus for yesterday but had a scheduling conflict at the last minute. Joe Hack (COL ’09), chairman of the GUCR, said that Paul will likely reschedule for the first week of December.

Hack also said that Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) and former Republican Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson have expressed interest in speaking at Georgetown. “Ideally, we’d like to get them all – at least the major candidates,” Hack said.

“We’ve had limited success so far,” said Mahen Gunaratna (SFS ’08), chairman of the Lecture Fund. “We hope to have more events in the spring.”

The lecture series is merely one facet of the three-part GUVotes08 initiative, which aims to educate students about the upcoming election. Other aspects of GUVotes08, started by GUCD and GUCR, include hosting monthly issue forums with policy experts on hot-button issues, and facilitating student voter registration.

GUVotes08 has also been holding monthly forums, where experts are invited to campus to speak about policy issues. Last month, GUCD and GUCR hosted a forum on Iraq as well as a healthcare debate. Yesterday night, the series continued with a forum on climate change, which was “a panel of four experts from conservative and liberal think tanks,” Hack said.

As the forums continue, Feiler said that there will be more election-related activities on campus. “We will also be hosting more debate watches and election watches,” he said.

Feiler also said that GU Votes 08 has been “registering [students to vote] constantly throughout the year. At the end of October, the representatives from GUCD and GUCR led “Dorm Storms,” visiting each of the freshman dorms and helping 248 freshmen register to vote.

Fleming praised the two groups and their bi-partisan efforts to get students involved.

“I have worked with both leaderships, and they really do work together very well. If all Republicans and Democrats worked as well as they do, it would be a wonderful world,” he said.

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