Saturday, February 22, 2020

USFSP Crow's Nest article -- James Bennett -- "Students document New Hampshire presidential primary"

While we were in New Hampshire, the Crow's Nest edition that came out on 10 February included reflections from RTWH2020 students' blogs

For the full story, click here

Students document New Hampshire presidential primary

WMNF Sean Kinane - USF St. Pete students react to their volunteer experiences on New Hampshire presidential campaigns

Click this link to listen to the audio recordings of our students' interviews:

WMNF's Sean Kinane:

USF St. Pete students react to their volunteer experiences on New Hampshire presidential campaigns



Senator Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday; the second- and third-place finishers, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, also earned delegates with their strong performance.
They had help on their campaigns from political science students from the University of South Florida at St. Petersburg.
Peyton Johnson, a senior majoring in political science, volunteered for the Sanders campaign.
“I think we accomplished what we came to do. And we touched a lot of voters. I am really confident going into Super Tuesday that we will be able to maintain the momentum that we have here.
“And when we go back to Florida, I know a lot of us have plans to continue to canvas and phone bank and intern in those offices, because we feel so strongly that Bernie Sanders will be our next president.”

SK: What was it like talking to voters in New Hampshire? What were some of the issues that were important to them? And when you met Bernie Sanders supporters, what were they supporting him for?

“Mainly, in New Hampshire, I was talking to a lot of people who were still undecided. I mean, it was so ironic for me to talk to voters who were two to three days from going to the polls and not having a decision yet.
“Because in Florida, most of us know going in, you know, a week, two weeks before. But because there’s such a grassroots movement here, they get to see the candidates all the time. But, I think that it was exciting, yet heartbreaking at the same time, to hear what the Trump administration has done and how it has impacted some of the voters here in New Hampshire.
“We talked to a lot of people who have family members who have reached their cap for Medicare and have medical bills piling up. And their parents are sick and they can’t get help. Or they have student loans that are so high that they can’t pay them anymore. And it was heartbreaking. But it also reassured me that the votes that we got were genuine and not just because they were just trying to beat Donald Trump. That they actually believed in candidate Sanders’ policies.”

University of South Florida students work on 2020 election
USF St. Petersburg class will travel to New Hampshire to work on 2020 presidential primary campaigns. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News (30 Jan. 2020).

SK: As someone who worked on a campaign that won the state what can you say about the experience, and what you look forward to going forward?

“The experience was, I think the best word to use is ‘euphoric.’ I have never worked in a campaign that everyone was so excited and had so much faith in someone that they didn’t know. And for us to be fighting in the rain, in the cold, in the snow for someone who we didn’t know really said something about American democracy.
“And I learned a lot about a process, and how really grassroots organization really impacts each and every one of our lives. And I think one of those takeaways that your vote really does matter, especially here in this state. Also, in Iowa. Bernie won the popular vote in Iowa and he won the popular vote here. And I have confidence that he will go on to win the electoral college and become our next president.”
But not all the USF students worked for campaigns that did well. First-year political science student Manuel Rodriguez volunteered for former Vice President Joe Biden, who came in fifth.
“I mean, I was expecting it. Because just seeing how the other students were talking about their campaigns, I knew that not a lot of resources were going to Iowa and New Hampshire. And he’s definitely prioritizing in Nevada and South Carolina.
“So, I wasn’t disappointed. I knew was going to happen. When I talked to voters, they were pretty much all set, until you got to the undecided. And the undecided had a bunch of different options. So, it’s really hard to concentrate, you know, them onto one voter.”

SK: When you talk to voters, especially voters who said that they were supporting Joe Biden, what were some of the issues that were important to them?

“The number one issue, I think for everybody across the candidates, was to get this guy out of the White House. But definitely, that was an appeal to Biden. A lot of people, including me, feel like he has that electability factor. So, that was definitely number one.
And then number two, they just wanted somebody who would just be a good, decent, honest, caring person. And I can tell you that, for a fact, when I met him the first time, and I shook his hand, I definitely — I knew him, and I hadn’t even met him. That’s the feeling that I got from him.
“And I know he’s like that with every single person. I know he can work with people.
“He knows, he understands suffering because he experienced suffering. And he knows how to connect with humans. And I think those are the feelings that people get from him. That’s how he connects to people.”

SK: When you talk about shaking his hand, is that something that happened in New Hampshire? And if so, describe what happened.

“So, this was the first town hall that I had worked with the three other Biden people. We had basically set up an event in Concord for him to come speak at a local Town Hall public event. So, one of the other students was like, ‘Oh let’s go take a photo with him.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, okay.’
“But there was this long line. We had to push through and we’re pretty small people compared to the rest. So, we pushed through. And then I got to take his hand. And I immediately just got this warm presence as if, he’s there, I’m there. He knows what he’s doing. He loves what he’s doing. He doesn’t seem like a politician. He just seems like one human talking to another human talking about what both care about. And immediately I got that vibe, which tells you something about the person. And yeah, it was really special.”
Jazzy Duarte is a senior majoring in environmental science and policy at USF St. Petersburg. She volunteered in New Hampshire with the Klobuchar campaign.
“It was kind of insane. So, we were just doing some poll visibility throughout the day. So, just sitting outside of the polls, getting everyone excited about voting for Amy. And then we headed over to Concord where they were having the victory party.
“And we just walk in and we see the TV with the results on, and we were just like ‘Oh my gosh, she’s in third place! Do we start freaking out right now or what?’ And it was just really exciting.
“We felt the excitement in the room from all the people, like the staff, the volunteers, the supporters. Just so proud of her because it was a moment that she definitely deserves.
“She was one of those candidates that not everyone believed was going to make it. And she always talks about it in her speeches how they didn’t think she was going to make it through her first state in announcing her candidacy. And then now they didn’t think she was going to make it to summer. But here she is, pushing through New Hampshire, and then going to go to Nevada and South Carolina.”

SK: You probably spoke with a lot of voters. What was it about Amy Klobuchar that they told you that changed their minds? And maybe, I might specifically ask if anyone mentioned the debate?

“Yes. So that was a huge thing. When we were like making calls, being sure that people knew about everything with Amy Klobuchar, they said that the debate was the big turning point for their vote.”

SK: And finally, what were some of the issues that people said were important to them?

“So, we got a lot of issues. I think that the biggest one was defeating Donald Trump. That was a huge issue that people just wanted to combat.
“But then also just having someone in office who’s actually going to make change.
“Some other issues that people directly classified: healthcare was something really big. Climate change was a big one. Education was a big one.
“So, I think just talking about all of those simultaneously while trying to advocate for Amy’s campaign was really, really big. And just seeing how much she’s developed as a leader on the candidate stage. And seeing how well she is doing public speaking. But then also talking with her constituents and seeing what they really need. And how she can effectively do that while in office is something that’s transcending among everyone else.”
The professor of the course is Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan. The students are blogging. You can read it here. And here is a link to the course blog.
Three Democratic presidential candidates have dropped out since polls closed on Tuesday: Deval Patrick, Michael Bennet and Andrew Yang.
Florida’s presidential preference primary election is March 17. The deadline to register to vote or to change your party is Tuesday, February 18.

USFSP Crow's Nest Article -- Dylan Hart -- "The End of the Road: Students Reflect on New Hampshire Primary Experience"

Read the full End of the Road article here.

The end of the road: Students reflect on New Hampshire primary experience

Pictured above: Martindale poses in a New Hampshire neighborhood while canvassing, holding up a stack of promotional photos for Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont. Courtesy Trevor Martindale

By Dylan Hart
It was a freezing February day in New Hampshire. Jacob Terrell, undeterred by the bitter cold and rain, knocked on a door that he would never forget.
An elderly woman came to the door and invited him in. They spoke about the upcoming political primary by the fire, with tea in hand, for almost half an hour. Terrell pitched his candidate, Elizabeth Warren, to the woman. She was a stranger to Terrell, but her warmth and hospitality still shined through.
“That’s something I’m going to take with me for the rest of my life,” Terrell said. “It was the American experience.”
Terrell was one of 29 students on the Road to the White House, an intensive political science course that takes students to New Hampshire for 10 days surrounding the primary election. Students picked their candidate and volunteered on their team, knocking on doors and calling phones alongside attending classes, forums and meetings.
Terrell, along with students Jadzia “Jazzy” Duarte, Trevor Martindale, Haley Hobbs and Andrea Rodriguez Campos, shared experiences from the New Hampshire snow to attendees at the Bay-to-Bay faculty symposium on Feb. 14.
The students took a lot of lessons home with them from the election, whether their candidate won or lost. While the six panelists were all politically involved before traveling to New Hampshire, they all felt that the experience fundamentally changed their understanding of the political process.
“They can read about the New Hampshire primary, they can watch things on the news, but I really wanted to take them to experience it for themselves,” said professor Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan. “It’s electrifying in a way that’s hard to describe.”
Duarte, who campaigned for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said that Scourfield McLauchlan telling students that they would be getting up at 6 a.m. to walk in the snow and getting back at midnight every day wasn’t an exaggeration. Still, she learned a lot from the class.

“You saw how intense the campaign offices were and how into the field everyone was getting,” she said.
She was also struck by the sheer number of people she met while volunteering, between voters and politicians. It motivated her to “be even more involved in politics,” she said.
One rare facet of the campaign was the high number of undecided voters on election day, said Scourfield McLauchlan. This led to a lot of long talks with voters for students.

Martindale, who campaigned for Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, recalled a passerby rolling down his window upon hearing Martindale’s team discussing Sanders. It turned into a long conversation where the voter told the team his life story.
The state’s size gives the primary a close-knit feel that can’t be captured in Florida, said Rodriguez Campos, who also campaigned for Sanders.

There was a recurring joke in New Hampshire, she said, that followed, “‘I’m not sure if I’m going to vote for Elizabeth Warren, I’ve only met her twice.’ It shows New Hampshire politics in a nutshell.”
The students on Sanders’ team saw him so many times that by the end, they were reciting his speech from memory, Rodriguez Campos said.
The students’ experiences went beyond campaigning. Everyone met candidates Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer and Amy Klobuchar. They also met “media stars” like Kevin Costner and Michael J. Fox. Duarte and another student on the Klobuchar campaign even got free tickets to the Feb. 7 debate in Manchester, New Hampshire.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It was the best 10 days of my life,” said Haley Hobbs, who worked for the Pete Buttigieg campaign.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

SGA Leaders on the Road to the White House 2020!

Several student government leaders were in this year's Road to the White House class.

Here's a picture they posted of themselves by the New Hampshire State House on the SG social media:

"Your SG leaders miss you! Some of us are away working hard on the New Hampshire primary! Each of us got to choose a candidate to work for and we can assure you we are learning a lot. Follow @iam_usfsp to get a little inside scoop on each candidate! Even though we are far away, Go Bulls!"

Top Row (from left): Zay Castle, Senator / Andrea Rodriguez Campos, Director of Sustainable Initiatives / Veronica Jimenez, Senate President / Trevor Martindale, Chief Legal Officer
Front Row (from left):
Maria Starr, Director of Elections / Sarah Ortner, Chief of
Staff / Peyton Johnson, Director of Student Government Relations / Samantha Fiore, Chief Justice / Jazzy Duarte, President

Monday, February 3, 2020

Crow's Nest Article about the Road to the White House 2020 by James Bennett #RTWH2020 #FITN

Click here to see the story on the Crow's Nest website:

On the 'Road to the White House'

A group of USF students is visiting New Hampshire to assist in presidential primary campaign efforts.
Courtesy of Road to the White House website

By James Bennett III

Jacob Terrell is not a traditional student.
After earning his associate degree in environmental studies from Southern Illinois University, the 32-year-old focused on experiences rather than carving out a career path. He traveled across the country and went to music festivals like Lollapalooza and Electric Forest while working jobs in the service industry.
Hungry for more, and in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, Terrell decided to return to college in 2018 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in political science.
On Feb. 2, Terrell was one of 29 USF students who left for a 10-day trip to New Hampshire to assist in presidential primary campaign efforts through the university’s “Road to the White House” class. New Hampshire’s primary is on Feb. 11.
Although the final five days of campaigning during the primary election will be the most intense, Professor Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan said she’s taking the class up early so they can see how their campaigns react to the Iowa caucus on Feb. 3.
The course only comes around every four years, during the presidential primaries. It’s so sought-after that students in the class had to submit a written application before going through an interview and reference checks. By the time McLauchlan cut off the applications on the Google forum, roughly 60 people had applied.
The class is worth six credits. The New Hampshire trip counts as three internship credits, while the majority of the semester is spent working on seminar credits.
The seminar portion of the class has already begun and has included student presentations on each presidential candidate. McLauchlan said she still plans on covering topics such as campaign financing, the electoral college and polling.
For the internship portion, the students are divided among eight campaigns, including former Vice President Joe Biden; Pete Buttigieg, former Democratic mayor of South Bend, IN; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-MN; Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-VT; President Donald Trump; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA; Andrew Yang; and the New Hampshire GOP.
Each student was given the opportunity to choose which campaign they would work for. Bernie Sanders was the most popular candidate, with nine students.
The students have been warned that they need to be prepared to work from 6 a.m. until midnight each night. Although it’s unlikely they’ll have to work for the entirety of that time frame, McLauchlan wants the students to get the most out of their time in New Hampshire.
Some students may need to be at their campaign offices at 5 a.m. on election day.
Terrell will be working with the Elizabeth Warren campaign team. He chose to work with Warren’s team because he said she’s tough on corporate greed.

Four years ago, Donald Trump
posed with a USF St. Petersburg T-shirt
at a campaign event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Five days later,
he handily won the state’s Republican primary
with 35.3 percent of the vote,
defeating a crowded field that included
former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Courtesy of Road to the White House
“There’s just so much about her that it’s like, if everyone was like that, the world could just be a better place,” he said.
Luckily, the “Road to the White House” class doesn’t plan on spending the entire trip canvassing.
Their itinerary also includes a tour of New Hampshire’s statehouse; a visit to the New Hampshire Institute of Politics; sitting in on an Executive Council meeting (over which the Governor presides); and visiting the Democratic Party Headquarters. They also plan on meeting with the New Hampshire Republican Party and the Secretary of State.
Although it isn’t set in stone yet, McLauchlan is also trying to get the class to a Trump rally and make sure the Democrat students are able to go to the 61st annual McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner.
McLauchlan said she started the class in 2004 because she wanted students to have hands-on experience working at the New Hampshire primary rather than just sitting through a lecture about presidential campaigns.
It took her about one year to organize this year’s class.
“The commitment of time it takes to teach these kinds of classes is extraordinary,” McLauchlan said. “I do it because I’m really passionate about it. And I really love it. And I love New Hampshire and the primary.”
Although the outcome of Florida’s general election is “incredibly important,” according to McLauchlan, students would not be able to participate in a grassroots campaign of the same degree as New Hampshire if the class stayed in Florida.
“There’s really nothing like it. There’s no substitute. It is exhilarating,” McLauchlan said. “It’s so intense, and I’m trying to prepare (the students) for that.”
Other than the real-world experience that comes along with enrolling in the class, some students were drawn to the class by McLauchlan’s connections and expertise.
After studying and working as a teaching assistant at Rutgers University for six years, McLauchlan worked in the White House for both of former President Bill Clinton’s terms, and has worked on several presidential campaigns, including Al Gore’s. She also worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Justice Department for the U.S. Supreme Court.
There are students from multiple majors and from both USF St. Petersburg and Tampa enrolled in the course.
Jadzia “Jazzy” Duarte, USF St. Petersburg’s Student Government president, is working with the Amy Klobuchar team. Duarte said she was attracted to the Klobuchar because she’s running a more personalized campaign than other “mainstream” candidates. Duarte also appreciates Klobuchar’s female empowerment and her environmental agenda.
Since nine USF St. Petersburg SG members are going on the trip, SG members who are staying on campus will take on more responsibilities during the trip. For example, Michael Johnson, the newly elected senate president pro tempore, will lead the SG general assembly while Veronica Jimenez, the newly elected senate president, is out of town.
If you would like to follow the class’ progress throughout the trip, a class blog and individual student blogs are available through the university’s website. Students will also take turns representing their campaigns on the @iam_usfsp Instagram page.

First Day! Dropping off our students at their internship placements - and first day canvass and phonebanking pics #RTWH2020 #FITN

Here we are, loading up in the vans for the first day.

And here are some students' pictures from their first day in their campaign HQs and their first experience canvassing and phonebanking.  Loved hearing about their adventures and misadventures when we had our group dinner to watch the Iowa Caucus results come in (or not come in, as it turnedout...)

Team Warren canvassing in Concord


an Amy Klobuchar satellite field office in Manchester

at Joe Biden's field office in Manchester
At Bernie Sanders' Manchester field office

glad my students took my advice to bundle up before a day of canvassing

Bernie Sanders volunteers getting ready for their orientation in the Manchester field office

loading up the vans for our first day in NH!

loading up the vans for our first day in NH!
phonebanking in the Warren Concord field office


Iowa Caucuses! Class Dinner -- First Day Re-Cap and Watch Party -- Skype with USF and St Pete re Iowa

Monday morning we got up early, had breakfast, and then immediately dropped of students at their internship placements.  I want students to have the opportunity to work a full day before the Iowa Caucus results came in. Typically there is a dramatic difference in the campaign offices and in the field before --- and after ---- the Iowa Caucuses; and I wanted students to experience that shift/sea change. This is part of the reason behind the timing of our trip dates.

Pick up from the various campaigns was around 6:00 pm, so we could collect everyone and bring them to the Margarita's in Salem. 

(This restaurant was across the hotel #RTWH2016 and site of our 2016 group dinners.  Despite making dozens of phone calls, I could not find a venue for our group dinner (where we could dine from 8:00 to 10:00 pm, as a group of 32 people, with the ability to watch TV turned to the Iowa Caucus results while we ate) nearer to our 2020 hotel.  So, I went ahead and booked the Margarita's in Salem again this year.  Everything was perfect.  Well, perfect for our class meeting and perfect for dinner.  Learning what was happening in Iowa?! That was a different story.)

This is probably my favorite meeting during the week -- as it is the one where I get to hear about everyone's first day at their internship placements.  For nearly all students in the class, this was their first time engaging in voter contact activities -- phonebanking or canvassing door-to-door.  I loved hearing their about their adventures and misadventures in the field.

By the time we have had a chance to hear about everyone's first day, the Caucus results are (usually) starting to come in.

Before leaving for New Hampshire, students learned about the history of the Iowa Caucuses, the difference between a caucus and a primary, the differences between the rules for the Democratic and the Republican caucuses, etc. In addition to their reading and writing assignments about the Iowa Caucuses, I invited experts from Iowa to skype in and meet with our students in class (back in St Pete). See, for example, our conversation with Professor David Redlawsk, author of Why Iowa?

And we learned more about the Iowa Democratic Party Satellite Caucuses that would be run here in St Petersrburg, FL:

On Caucus night, while dining at the Margarita's in Salem, we were able to skype in a professor at USF Tampa who traveled to Iowa with a few of his students who were working on an immersive field research project.  Professor Joshua Scacco took some time out of their busy Caucus night to tell us more about what they were experiencing on the ground, in the gymnasium that night. It was exciting to connect with fellow Bulls who were on the ground in Iowa.

We also had the chance to skype with folks on the ground in St. Pete who were organizing the Iowa Democratic Party Satellite Caucus. 

We ended up leaving dinner and heading back to the hotel without having much clarity as far as what was happening in Iowa.  Even when we returned to our hotel in Merrimack, it was hard to figure out what was going on.  We had a very early start the next morning, so, most of us went to bed without knowing much about the 2020 results.  All of which seemed to make the stakes in New Hampshire that much higher.

Skyping with USF Tampa Professor Scacco
Syping with USF Tampa Prof Scacco


first, we were skyping with my laptop - when we lost connection, then we were skyping with my phone: Improvise, Adapt, Overcome!
On the drive to the restaurant in Salem we were able to hear from organizers on the ground in St Pete - what was happening at the satellite caucus