The first meeting of the new Harvard Republican Action Committee (HRAC) degenerated into a bickering session last night, as leaders and prospective members found themselves confronted by angry questions from members of the Harvard Radcliffe Republican Club.
The new committee was formed this week in response to the Republican Club's endorsement of an anti-abortion position Tuesday night. The committee's organizers say the new group will back specific candidates instead of debating policy issues.
Harry J. Wilson '93, Christopher L. Garcia '95 and Fred A. Decaro '93, former executives and current members of the Republican club, spear-headed the hostile questioning, which led to a heated exchange of questions and answers.
"You will never be able to get away from policy questions," Garcia said in one such exchange.
"Who the hell are you to come and question this?" replied N. Van Taylor '96, the committee's president.
Taylor said the presence of the former Republican executives was an "orchestrated attack against HRAC."
The Republican Club members, however, criticized Taylor and the committee's first vice president, Randall A. Fine '96, for leaving the club and starting the new group. They said their move would only cause division among campus Republicans.
"I feel very strongly that this will hurt the Republican cause on campus," said Wilson a former president of the Republican club.
"I am not accusing them of opportunism, but Fine and Taylor's recent losses in HRRC elections will create that impression to outsiders," Wilson added. "That impression, false or otherwise is deadly deadly to a campus organization."
Seventeen students all but one of whom are male and all but two of whom are current Republican Club members also attended the meeting. But many of these members said they were not present to debate but to learn more about the new committee.
Republican Club President Karen E. Boyle '94, who was not at the meeting, said she was upset about the students who had left and were considering leaving her group. And she said she would "have a very hard time dealing" with students interested in joint membership in both groups.
It the new Republican group tries to recruit members from the Republican Club, "they're going to have a damn night on their hands," Boyle said.
For his part, Taylor said he was concerned about relations between his group and the Republican club.
"[Boyle] told me the hatchet had been buried and had never been bared, but that's just not true", Taylor said, "I'm sorry it had to come down to this," he said.
"Why would you want to align yourself with people who abandoned the club you're supposed to working for?" Boyle asked.
Before the bickering session began, prospective members of the new club spoke optimistically.
"I think this group is filling a niche and is reaching out to Republicans as a whole", said Bradford P. Campbell '95, who holds executive positions in both Republican organizations. "I see no reason why these two clubs can't coexist, even with simultaneous membership.