Bernie Sanders spoke at GW in his first public event since the election. This event was presented by Politics and Prose Bookstore and GW.
This is the first time many GW students will cast their ballot in a presidential election, so you can understand the excitement swirling around campus during the past few months. Check out some of our favorite student moments from Twitter this election season.
Throughout the 2016 campaign, GW experts and alumni have weighed in with insightful and informative commentary on the political process.
What are Trump and Clinton doing to politics and media? Chuck Todd moderates this #OnlyatGW panel:Posted by The George Washington University on Monday, September 12, 2016
We're live with #GWU campaign expert Michael Cornfield. Ask your presidential election questions!Posted by The George Washington University on Tuesday, October 18, 2016
It makes sense that Princeton Review's most politically active student body in the nation (for four years running) would help create some of the most accomplished political careers of the 2016 election season. GW alumni shared their stories from running and reporting on both candidates' campaigns in the summer issue of GW Magazine.
CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash, BA ’93, who has served as a questioner for six primary debates in this election cycle
[Debate prep] is similar to cramming for a final, it is very intense. [You’re] sitting in a room with some of the smartest and most creative people preparing for anything. We have tremendous research teams, and they put together information about the many topics that we’re thinking of focusing on. After we settle for the most part on the topics, we focus in on the wording of the questions and the order, and you get down to the nitty gritty, and that kind of preparation is important to ensure you’re as ready as possible. The most important part of the debate prep for us were the mock debates. We would sit there for hours and go through things over and over again. We have people playing the roles of the candidates, and that helps more than you would think. We do it to figure out whether a question isn’t working, or we need to sharpen this or we need to move this around. That particular preparation was helpful at the Democratic presidential primary debate in Brooklyn, N.Y. It is our job to ask tough questions that make the candidates accountable. I felt like we equally stayed on both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to ensure they answered our questions comprehensively.
This election has been unique, and every day has proven to be more exciting. This is my seventh presidential election cycle at CNN, and I have never seen anything quite like this. It is an honor to serve as a debate questioner, and it is something I take very seriously. I always feel a sense of responsibility and pressure to get the answers for our CNN viewers.
Freelance photographer for The New York Times
As a stringer for The New York Times, Ms. Demczuk spent weeks in Iowa capturing images of the nearly two dozen candidates who hoped to be president—a job that required constant contortions, laying on the floor and hustling around rooms to find the best angles. Her favorite photo from her time in the Hawkeye State came in the final days before the caucus, at a rally for Hillary Clinton in Iowa City, where Ms. Clinton had just hosted an event with singer Demi Lovato. The candidate “was working the ropeline and was just taking so many selfies, and it was really interesting because, instead of signing autographs, she would just take selfies,” Ms. Demczuk says. “I’ve never seen someone take so many selfies with people.” From a terrace above she “had a bird’s-eye view of her, and just seeing her with this massive amount of people trying to get into the photo, it was a very funny scene.”
Capturing moments like that, some of which have appeared on the front page of The Times, is one of the best parts of the job, she says.
“When you see someone reading The Times and your photo is there on the front page, it’s such a great feeling,” Ms. Demczuk says. “It’s also a very different feeling than having your photo on the homepage. In the newspaper, it feels more real, more permanent.”
Photo: Gabriella Demczuk
Event manager for the Republican National Convention
If you had been looking to host an event at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July, there’s a good bet you’ve already met Kasey Packer. And if you’re one of the 4,800 delegates or alternates, 15,000 members of the media or among the thousands of others who were planning to attend an event at the convention, she’s got you covered.
As the event manager for the RNC, Ms. Packer was overseeing all five convention complex venues—including Quicken Loans Arena, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers—that the GOP rented for their big nominating event. In the run up to the show, she was busy working with the convention’s 12 caterers and six florists to transform the basketball arena and conference spaces into meeting rooms and event locales for the numerous groups hosting events over the four-day convention.
She is one of a handful of GW alumni working on the convention, including Ninio Fetalvo, BA ’14, who works in media affairs for the convention and is the Republican National Committee’s press secretary for Asian-Pacific American engagement; Audrey Scagnelli, BA ’13, the convention’s national press secretary; and Zach Quinn, BA ’13, the deputy director of official proceedings.
Ms. Packer says the position bridged a love of politics with event planning, and she hopes to continue as a political event planner after the show is over. “Being an event manager for the convention has been amazing,” she says. “I couldn’t have dreamt up a better first job after college.”
Director of correspondence and briefings for Hillary Clinton
Self-proclaimed policy wonk Hillary Clinton has often said delving into policy is her favorite part of being an elected official. And she relies on the team Rob Russo leads to keep her informed on everything from the logistics of her travel to the issues faced by the people she’ll be meeting at each stop on the trail.
“It’s a lot like publishing a newspaper that has a circulation of one,” Mr. Russo says of the briefing book he helps compile, which takes hours of work by multiple people to pull together.
Aside from ensuring the former secretary of state is well-briefed, Mr. Russo is also in charge of the vast amount of her correspondence—from replying to letters and emails from the electorate to keeping in touch with the candidate’s friends, elected officials and donors. Handling all that (mail and email messages stream in at a pace of 5,000-10,000 daily, he says), as well as keeping up with the 24-hour news cycle, makes for a grueling schedule for Mr. Russo and his team; one member of the group is always awake to ensure nothing is missed that may need to be in the next day’s briefing.
But when the schedule gets tough, Mr. Russo says the letters from supporters can be a boost.
“If we’re ever having a day on our team when we’re tired or we’re exhausted or don’t want to keep going or are overwhelmed,” he says, “it’s humbling to take the time to read some of the stories that remind you why we’re doing this.”
Director of scheduling and advance for Hillary Clinton
As the head of the team that scouts and schedules the dozens of campaign rallies and events Hillary Clinton holds each month, Mr. Hornbrook often needs to find the perfect venue at nearly a moment’s notice.
And it’s trickier than just walking into any diner or auditorium. For starters, every space needs a green light from the Secret Service, which will need to secure the area; the location needs to be able to hold the number of supporters expected to show up, without too much slack or squeeze; and, to avoid a spectacle, event spaces should have owners that share the values of the campaign. All of that vetting must be completed in a matter of days, or sometimes hours, in a fast-paced campaign that’s constantly reacting to the world around it.
“We lean a lot on our teams in the states, who are amazing and really integrate into the communities they are working in, so they usually have a lot of great recommendations,” Mr. Hornbrook says.
For Mr. Hornbrook, who is on his second tour of duty with the candidate, a boon of the job is how all this orchestration bridges far-flung departments, like communications and the budget office. “We really get exposed to every corner of the campaign,” he says.
CNN Political Reporter Jeremy Diamond, BA ’14
I’ve been covering Donald Trump since before he actually announced his candidacy, [and] it’s gone from covering a candidate who we didn’t expect to go very far to covering a candidate leading in the polls, to covering the presumptive nominee for president. So it’s been a pretty wild ride. ... There are typically thousands of people at all of these rallies, and it’s been that way from the beginning. A lot of the power players in Washington took months to realize that the Trump phenomenon was a real thing. But I’ve seen that from the beginning—a lot of really passionate people attending his rallies from the moment he launched his campaign in June of 2015. ... When Jeb Bush started getting a couple hundred people at his events, it was like, ‘Oh my goodness, Jeb Bush is getting large crowds.’ But when Trump was getting 200 people, we were like, ‘What’s going on?’ I haven’t been covering a traditional campaign, and that’s been apparent from the beginning.
One of the things that I was glad to be in a position to witness and to film was [at a campaign event] in the fall of 2015, where a Black Lives Matter protester got punched, kicked and dragged by Trump supporters. … That was the only video of that incident, which we’ve seen replicated in a lot of ways. ... That’s part of my job, and I take it pretty seriously, to make sure that I’m able to witness when violence does boil over.
People are always asking me, ‘Is Donald Trump the same when you see him in private settings?’ Certainly you have the same guy in interviews, as far as how he talks about the issues he’s passionate about and the brashness with which he lays out his policy ideas. But there’s also a certain charm, in the sense that he tries to make you feel like you’re important, and he has this quality of being able to be personable when he needs to and when he wants to.