GOP activists move on to floor debates, chairman elections

[private]ATHENS – After a day of presidential speeches and ceremonial meals, Republican Party delegates get down to the real business at hand Saturday – electing a chairman and debating the hottest of hot-button issues before the party: a religious freedom resolution.

During a long day of procedural votes and passionate speeches at their state convention here, party activists will choose between current Chairman John Padgett and challenger Alex Johnson to lead the GOP for the next two years.

They will also decide whether to adopt a religious freedom resolution as it was introduced in this year’s legislative session, where it did not pass, or take the advice of Gov. Nathan Deal and add language banning discrimination against gays and other groups.

Deal and other party leaders want to avoid the kind of media fire that engulfed Indiana after its governor, Mike Pence, signed a religious freedom law earlier this year.

One of the presidential candidates who spoke Friday, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, urged delegates to endorse the unamended version of the resolution.

“I will always, always, always defend the religious liberty of every American,” said Cruz, who blamed liberals and “big business” for opposing religious freedom bills in Georgia and other states.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio put more emphasis in his speech on what he saw as the need to bring America “into the twenty-first century” by beefing up the military and engaging in more ventures on foreign soil.

Rubio also argued that the American Dream is fading away because too many people go to college and amass student debt that they are unable to pay off. He said it was better to divert students into technical colleges and vocational schools instead, where they could be trained for blue-collar jobs like airline mechanics.

If students persist in wanting to attend college, Rubio said there should be a “right to know before you go” law that would require colleges to give students going into a particular course of study information on how much they can expect to make when they graduate.

“You can decide whether it’s worth it to borrow $50,000 to major in Greek philosophy, because the market for Greek philosophers has gotten very tight,” he joked.

© 2015 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Marco Rubio , religious freedom , republican party , state convention , Ted Cruz