Student, professor attend Republican Party Convention
Alexandria Bell, a senior political science major, interned for the Frederick County Teacher’s Association (FCTA) during the convention.
“I was basically their runner,” Bell said. “Doing anything they needed me to do when they were interviewing the delegates, who wanted to talk to them about how excited they were about Romney and how they felt about certain policies.”
Bell said the political science department gave her a vast knowledge base to prepare her for the internship – especially her professors in the major.
“You get both points of view; they purposely start conversations or give points of view in conversations that you can back up regardless of how you feel about it,” Bell said.
Cliff Wilkinson, a government and sociology professor and coordinator of the internship program at GC, also attended the convention.
“A lot of the focus was how we can entice young people to get involved with politics and government,” Wilkinson said. “Technology was a key factor, not only in galvanizing interest in younger audiences but also in broadening the general audience of the convention.”
Bell said hearing United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speak was the highlight of the convention.
“She put emphasis on the core values of the Republican Party and what they are about. She reminded them of why they were Republicans in the first place. She asserted that our nation is the way that it is today is because Republicans have lost sight of what the party focuses on,” Bell said.
While the event was centered on the Republican Party, it served even more as a meeting ground for individuals.
“It wasn’t about trying to convince people to be a part of your political party, so much as it was about a bunch of people who share a common interest coming together and sharing their common interest among one another,” Bell said.
According to the GOP website, the convention was the most technologically-involved event in politics to date, second only to the London Olympics in its use of social media devices.
James Davis, director of communications for the event and GC alumni, commented on the work it took to facilitate the use of social media.
“One of the jobs of the communication department is a booking operation for all of the Republican delegates and officials. What we do is we organize as many interviews with those individuals as we possibly can. We booked 2,187 plus interviews – the previous record was 984, so we more than doubled the output,” Davis said.
In a segment of the website entitled “Convention without Walls,” audiences could view a live video and Twitter feed during the event, which connected them to the event in a manner that was unavailable at previous conventions.
“Instead of just sending people to a website, we really focused our effort on the YouTube page. It took them to a place where they could take that information and share it.” Davis said, adding that it was an important part of getting their message across.
This marked the first Republican Convention in which Twitter was a main component.
“Everybody was on Twitter, everything was about Twitter, and you had everyone making comments about what was going on, constantly,” Bell said.
“We recorded over 4 million tweets for the RNC. For our platform we were going to give them an experience that was very social, which would drive the buzz around our convention. We think that we worked that very well,” Davis said.
Davis was recently named one of the “Top 40 Under 40” by PRWeek US, an online public relations website, in the category of communications. Before coming to work for the RNC, he worked as director of congressional research for the Pentagon, and he helped BP frame its response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Like Bell, Davis said the professors at GC were responsible for preparing him.
“I think GC prepared me well, and I’m appreciative of all the professors I’ve had over the years. The great thing about GC is you get a lot of one-on-one experience that you might not get at larger universities,” Davis said.
Similarly, the political field offers a proving ground for young journalists or politicians.
“You can get as much responsibility as you’re willing to take on in the political world, particularly if you just have the passion, the base set of skills and you’re willing to work very hard. You’ll learn the rest,”Davis said.