Typically finding a conservative on campus is like finding a needle in a haystack. James Wilson is about 50 years older than the average college senior, but his presence on the campus at Hofstra University is a godsend for those members of the Hempstead-based campus’ GOP constituency.
“This is the only guy handing out Romney posters,” one student said, declining to give his name. “If it weren’t for him, there’d be nothing but Obama posters.”
The 70-year-old Wilson, a native of Virginia and anti-Obama Republican volunteer for Mitt Romney, adamantly denies that he is a follower of the former Massachusetts governor.
“He follows me,” he says, taking a puff on his trademark pipe. “I get here first.”
Wilson, a former Army Airborne Ranger, said that he typically travels “as fast as I can go, I go” ahead of the campaign to the next stop, most of the time getting pulled over and meeting interesting people along the way.
“It’s evolved. It really is, to get stopped by highway patrolmen in the middle of the night after checking license and registration. Early on I got a lot of these,” he said, pointing a certain digit toward the sky. “Lately I’m getting more of these,” giving a thumbs up. “I mean that’s uplifting! Some people are real creative – one trucker tried to drag me off the road.”
Wilson’s truck recently was engulfed in a fire and the Romney campaign covered the cost of the $13,900 replacement. He later attached a pair of billboards and numerous American flags to the roof.
“This is literally showing the flag and as attach Romney with our flag and our country,” he said.
As for the posters and bumper stickers that Wilson hands out, “I steal them,” he says. “People don’t believe me.”
During the primaries, Wilson said that he would go up to the unused stock of campaign paraphernalia, load it into his truck and take it to the next stop.
He managed to park his new Chevy truck just inside the VIP parking area at Hofstra Tuesday, but won’t be going inside to watch the debate.
“I’ve got credentials, I don’t want to go in. I can watch down at MSNBC,” he said. “Besides, I get a kick out of watching shivers go up people’s legs.”
As for his thoughts on what he’s expecting in the debate, “I don’t think there’ll be any massive fireworks, I don’t think they’ll be any blowout moments,” he said. “Obama’s covered either way, If he tries to pull a Joe Biden folksy (stuff), that dog won’t hunt, if he tries to act presidential, that dog doesn’t exist. He will once again just try to appeal to the class division, talk about starving grandmothers stuck in a snowdrift because of George W. Bush. That (stuff) doesn’t fly anymore; Mitt Romney’s armed to the teeth. He’s vastly superior mentally and he’s very comfortable in his own skin.”