WASHINGTON -- At the Conservative Political Action Conference, you'll come across plenty of Republican students, quite a few pundits, and, if you're lucky, a Republican rock star like Sarah Palin. You definitely don't expect to come across any Democrats.
Hanging out on the lobby floor of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on Thursday, however, were two left-wing party crashers.
Tanner Polce and Bryan Zarou, 20-year-old Democrats active in student government at Wesley College in Dover, Del., said they ventured into the massive annual Republican conference with hopes to expand their minds.
I think it's really important to diversify your collegiate experience as much as possible, said Polce, who worked for U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., from Jan. to Aug. 2010. So me, as a Democrat, who works for a Democratic senator in a Democratic state, it's important to touch constituencies that, quite frankly, don't share the same ideologies as me at all.
They had just watched Herman Cain's speech on a television screen outside the ballroom. Polce said he wasn't that impressed. We've been hearing the same thing for a while now, he said.
Expanding their minds has proven to be difficult at times. Zarou, who hails from Uniondale, N.Y., said he's been making an effort to remain objective, but can't help but be shocked at discrepancies with history and other such things.
Who was he thinking of, exactly? Today, Michele Bachmann made quite a few historically inaccurate discrepancies, but you still have to remain objective for the overall point and underlying message, he said, chuckling.
If they wanted to vent about the former presidential candidate and Minnesota congresswoman, they had few to turn to. Zarou said they haven't found any other Democrats.
But that didn't stop Zarou and Polce from mingling with the CPAC crowd. Well, we have a libertarian and two conservatives, Polce said, pointing to three other young people they had just been talking to. They smiled awkwardly.
Even though the two liberal students may have been outside their comfort zone, they didn't regret it at all. At the end of the day, it was a wonderful learning experience, Zarou said.
(Editor's note: a former version of this article stated that Tanner Polce works for U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. He worked for the senator from January to August 2010 and is no longer affiliated with his office. The current version has been updated. IBTimes regrets the error.)