Only a few college students have their schools host a presidential debate. Fewer still attend a school that will host a debate and also send them to the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. This semester, I was one of those lucky few.
All this week I’ve been in attendance at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL under the flag of Lynn’s College of International Communication. While we didn’t have the Double-Top-Secret Credentials that would get us on the convention floor, our stay in Tampa has been nothing short of extraordinary. I was able to participate in plenty of what the GOP calls “a convention without walls.”
On Monday, we drove up from Boca Raton through the last Floridian gusts of then Tropical Storm Isaac. We took a recess, much like the Republicans, until Tuesday morning. That’s when the action started. We went out and interviewed Ron Paul supporters and far-right religious protesters. Comedy Central’s Indecision 2012 crew was on hand putting together interviews.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that watching YouTube videos is a waste of time. I was able to get an interview with Jonathon Torres, Director of Digital Integration for the RNC, because as he walked by I recognized him from the GOPconvention YouTube channel. That night, our news team of students—myself, Sophia Barrett, Tammy Reyes, Patricia Lammle, and Ricky Freeberry—put our work together for an issue of Lynn’s iPulse.
Wednesday morning we got up early (that’s 5 a.m. for college students) for a live filming of MSNBC’s Morning Joe. The show, which airs 6-9 a.m., is doing a remote this week from Howl at the Moon Bar on Channelside Drive in Tampa. They’ve aptly renamed the place “Elephant Bar” for the week. We were able to catch several of the MSNBC guest analysts for interviews after the live shoot. I had brief interviews with Chuck Todd, Chief White House Correspondent for NBC, and Michael Steele, former RNC Chair and former Lt. Gov. of Maryland.
Michael Steele’s advice for young people interested in politics was simple: “Don’t sit around and wait for someone to give you permission to get involved, to take a leadership role, or take responsibility for the direction of the party.”
Today the roles were reversed. We, the students, were interviewed by reporters from The Hechinger Report and Inside Higher Ed.
Now we get to sit back, finish our daily pieces for iPulse and wait for the fireworks after Mitt Romney’s convention speech tonight. It’s been a hell of a week and I for one have passed out my fair share of business cards. But have I paid my fair share of income taxes? Have I even released my taxes yet? Sorry for the political humor. I’ve been neck deep in it for days now.
I’ll be traveling to Charlotte, NC next week, Sept. 3-7, with the same group of students to cover the Democratic National Convention for Lynn’s iPulse.