For One Young Delegate, Social Issues Are Not A Litmus Test

Alexander Reber may not be the youngest delegate at the Republican convention — that honor goes to his fellow Virginia delegate, 17-year-old high school senior Evan Draim.

But Reber, 21, who is an alternate, is certainly doing his part to lower the average age in the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where the convention opened Tuesday.

We asked Reber, a University of Virginia senior and head of the school's student legislature, how he came to be such a committed Republican. He had a ready answer: "Bob McDonnell."

Alexander Reber, 21, a Virginia delegate and one of the youngest at the convention. i i

Alexander Reber, 21, a Virginia delegate and one of the youngest at the convention. Liz Halloran/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Liz Halloran/NPR
Alexander Reber, 21, a Virginia delegate and one of the youngest at the convention.

Alexander Reber, 21, a Virginia delegate and one of the youngest at the convention.

Liz Halloran/NPR

Reber said that when he first saw McDonnell, Virginia's governor since 2010, he "focused on higher education, transportation, infrastructure — all the issues I care about."

He wants his party to do the same.

As for the social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage that often seem to dominate the political conversation, and are of top importance to part of his party's base, Reber said this:

"I like a moral compass in a candidate, but I don't litmus test a candidate on those issues," he said. "They're part of a calculus, but not litmus."

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