Donald Trump Jr., Brian Kemp and Glenn Youngkin to headline Washington and Lee mock convention

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Donald Trump Jr., Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp will be among the speakers appearing at Washington and Lee University’s Mock Convention next month — a student event that has often hosted future presidents and presidential candidates in the past.

The event occurs every four years and models itself after the nominating convention for the out-of-power party seeking a return to the White House. The last day of “Mock Con,” which will be held Feb. 9-10 this year, features a prediction by students of who will be nominated at the actual Republican convention in Milwaukee later this year.

Also headlining this year’s event are former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who ran for president but dropped out earlier this month, former White House press secretary and current Fox News host Kayleigh McEnany, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk and conservative activist Candace Owens.

Glenn Youngkin politician press conference
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin outside a polling station during Election Day, Tuesday, in Glenn Allen, Va., Nov. 7, 2023.Steve Helber / AP file

Youngkin, Kemp and Pompeo were all subject of presidential speculation earlier in the 2024 election cycle, but each of them declined to run for president this time around.

“The main goal of this convention — both from an educational and an entertainment standpoint — is to represent a wide breadth of beliefs within the party,” said Madison McGinley, a senior at Washington and Lee who is serving as speaker’s chair of this year’s Mock Convention. “That’s kind of how we landed on names like Asa Hutchinson, but also Donald Trump Jr.”

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“We’re trying to inform the student body of what the party is looking like and how this election is going to go,” McGinley added.

McGinley and other students in charge of organizing the convention began reaching out to potential speakers two years ago.

“The difficulty with that, especially with elected officials, is most of them don’t make their schedules until about a month or two out. So, the most important part of it was keeping our names at the top of their mind,” McGinley said.

Image: Brian Kemp
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp delivers the State of the State address on the House floor of the state Capitol in Atlanta, Jan. 25, 2023.Alex Slitz / AP file

The university has been hosting this convention every four years since 1908, with the main goal of predicting the out-of-power party’s nominee, Mock Convention press secretary Addie-Grace Cook told NBC News.

“Since 1908, we’ve been right 75% of the time overall, and since 1948, we’ve had 100% accuracy in predicting Republican nominations,” Cook said.

In the past, the convention has also hosted future presidents, candidates and ticket-mates among the speakers, including then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, then-Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter, then-Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, and then-Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater. Former President Harry Truman and former Vice President Dick Cheney have also spoken at the event in the past.

This was a fact that went into the group’s decision making about who to invite to speak this year, McGinley told NBC News.

“That was definitely a conscious part of the process,” McGinley said, adding: “We’ve had a lot of former presidents. And obviously that is a legacy we want to continue to uphold.

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