Will Romney play in Peoria?

By Nancy Ridgeway
March 15, 2012

“Will it play in Peoria?” has become a common question, as the city has become a test market for a variety of products and a barometer of public sentiment over the years. With the Republican presidential primary on the docket for Illinois next week, the question takes a new twist: “Will Mitt Romney play in Peoria?”

National Public Radio (NPR) national political correspondent Don Gonyea made his way to Bradley University this week to pose the question for his segment on Wednesday’s edition of the popular news radio program, “All Things Considered.”

Senior Katie Childs, a history major from Peoria and president of the Bradley University College Republicans, shared her perspective with Gonyea.

“I talked about how I will be voting for Romney. As a college student, I am concerned about the job market and the economy and taking my Bradley education into the work world. I think Romney can revive the economy and the job market. As the former governor of Massachusetts, he had to work with a Democratic state legislature in a bipartisan way,” Childs said, comparing Romney to former Illinois Congressman and Bradley alumnus Robert H. Michel, who was known for his bipartisanship.

“What weighs on my mind—and what is most critical about this election—is what happens to the job market in the next four years. Unemployment for students coming out of college is really high, and the next four years will have a high impact on that,” Childs said.

Despite her comments not making the final version of Gonyea’s story, Childs still enjoyed the experience of being interviewed. “I was nervous, but he [Gonyea] was nice. After the interview, he asked me where I thought I’d be in five years. We talked about his work as the chief White House correspondent for NPR. It was interesting to talk to someone with those experiences. We talked about politics, but we also talked about the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament. This all goes along with the incredible experience I’ve had at Bradley.

“I’ve said all along that Bradley University has a private college feel with big university opportunities. This is another example of the big university opportunities students have here.”

Childs called the Gonyea interview “surreal” and said, “It’s interesting that my opinion might influence someone or at least provoke them to think about things from a college perspective.”

She emphasized that the opinions she expressed are her own and do not represent the College Republicans, who cannot endorse a primary candidate. “We’re trying to help candidates who don’t have a primary opponent. Right now, we are collaborating with the College Democrats and Bradley’s Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service to further people’s involvement politically.”

Childs said she has always been interested in politics. “Being active politically, whether by voting, joining a club or working on a campaign, is the most effective way to bring about change and have your views represented. The best way to enact change is through the ballot box.”

Gonyea also interviewed Bradley marketing professor Ed Bond and Brad McMillan, executive director of the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service, along with other Peorians. To listen to the segment online, visit http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2012/03/14/148590976/romney-might-like-the-view-from-peoria.