When former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made the surprise announcement last week that he was dropping out of the race, several Penn State students were in the audience.
Those students, representatives from College Republicans, College Libertarians and Young Americans for Freedom, were part of a group of 25 students who traveled to Washington, D.C., this weekend for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
While some of the students watched Romney's speech firsthand, others watched the speech along with Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul in the politician's office.
"[Ron Paul] was just as surprised as we were," said attendee Jack Vickrey, College Republicans vice chairperson, of Romney's concession.
During the three-day conference, the students attended forums and panel discussions. They also heard speeches from President George W. Bush, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former White House Press Secretary Tony Snow and presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
College Republicans Chairman Brandon Means said he was glad Paul made time to meet with college students from Pennsylvania, even though he didn't have to. Although Means said he was not able to see Romney's speech, several students from the group did.
"They said it was a good speech, but they were surprised he conceded," Means said.
He said he knew a College Republicans alumnus who has been volunteering for Romney, and she told Means she had no idea Romney would be announcing his concession.
Alex Weller, College Libertarians president, said he was able to ask Paul several questions about his stance on the Federal Reserve. Weller said Paul answered that he is against the system because he believes it causes inflation in the business cycle.
Weller said it was his first time at the conference and was glad a meeting with Paul could be a part of the experience. He said it was especially exciting because he was able to be with Paul as the candidate watched Romney's speech on the television in his office.
"[Paul] thought it would raise his chances of being elected and garnering more support since many conservatives feel disillusioned by John McCain," Weller said.
The group also met with U.S. Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa., who announced last month he would not be seeking re-election to represent the 5th District of Pennsylvania.
Vickrey said students asked Peterson how he felt about the candidates who are running for a chance to take his place. Peterson responded that he is waiting until later in the race to announce who he will support.
Means said the conference, which was attended by thousands, is a chance to hear other conservatives' thoughts and ideas.
He said the College Republicans would use the encouragement from the conference when they become involved in the presidential campaign.
"One of the things Tony Snow talked about was, whether you like McCain or not, it's time to buckle down and support him," Means said.