As we arrived to Senator Marco Rubio’s campaign headquarters in Columbia, South Carolina on Saturday, February 20th, our professor Dr. Harris-Perry was shouting out of the driver’s seat of the car behind us, “Get inside! Rubio has got to be here!” As we jumped out of the car, we saw his travel bus with his face and motto, A New American Century, plastered in huge letters across the side. As a Rubio fan, my heart was racing from excitement. We ran up the stairs to the campaign headquarters following right behind his wife, Mrs. Jeanette Rubio, and his two daughters. As soon as we entered, we saw a crowd gathered in the left corner, everyone surrounding Rubio. Dr. Parker handed me the Wake the Vote t-shirt and Sebastian, Nick and I plowed through the crowd to get a chance to speak with the Senator. When the media refers to Rubio as “electable”, they are spot on. He is charismatic, funny and passionate. He exudes a confident, yet humble persona. When we finally pushed through the crowd of mostly young kids and college students, I shook his hand, introduced myself and the Wake The Vote program, and handed him the shirt. We took pictures with the Senator and told him that we have been traveling around the country following the election. He was genuinely happy to hear about the program and I’m confident that he will be wearing the Wake The Vote t-shirt over his dress clothes at the next debate. That day, four students including myself from Wake The Vote phone banked from 10 am until 6 pm, reminding South Carolinians to come out to the polls to support Mr. Rubio. Two hours in, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley visited and took the time to talk to each volunteer in the Rubio office. The most amazing part of this experience of working on Rubio’s campaign was observing and participating in the enthusiasm and excitement that motivates Rubio supporters. Young college students from all over the country were present that day. They gave me information about how to start a Students for Rubio chapter at Wake Forest and we all shared our unique campaign experiences. Everyone was very hardworking and friendly. I felt like I was a part of the Rubio family because of their hospitality and because of the aesthetic of the room. We were all at small tables, working very close together and the walls of the room were covered with hand-made posters and signs that read “Rubio for President 2016” and “We are ready for A New American Century”. Needless to say, when the results came out later that night, I felt that I had contributed to Senator Rubio’s second place win. We were a part of encouraging the #marcomentum in South Carolina!
Attending the Ted Cruz rally the night before working on Rubio’s campaign, I was shocked to hear all of the negative rhetoric that Cruz and his presenters used in their speeches. It was disheartening and in my opinion, unproductive. All of Cruz’s experience and credibility as a constitutional expert went down the drain for me after I heard him speak in person. I realized in that moment that Rubio is the only chance the Republicans have of winning the election. Cruz doesn’t have the spark, the unifying language and confident message/platform that Rubio has cultivated over the past few months. On top of that, the Wake The Vote cohort had the opportunity to discuss American politics and the election with South Carolina’s Democratic and Republican party chairs, Jamie Harrison and Matt Moore. After our forum with these prominent political figures, another revelation occurred to me. Both Harrison (40) and Moore (33) are young politicians that have been able to develop a remarkable relationship and respect for one another, despite different world views and policy recommendations. It was incredible to see that level of professionalism and unwavering goal of making every American’s life a valuable one. I saw hope in these party chairs. For a few hours, I wasn’t worried about Donald Trump possibly winning the Republican nomination. Maybe Rubio’s electability and past record on bipartisanship will propel him ahead of Mr. Trump and knock some thousands of voters off the Trump train…
Thanks South Carolina. It’s been a blast!