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From Nevada to South Carolina: GW Student Groups Catch Campaign Fever

SOPHIE OTA//


Campaign organizers told freshman Ally Alfonso to arrive at headquarters by 7:30 a.m. An hour later, she was snapping a picture with Senator Marco Rubio.

Alfonso, along with three other members of Students for Rubio, spent this past weekend volunteering with the presidential hopeful’s campaign before the South Carolina primary on Saturday, Feb. 20. The students attended rallies, canvassed, and phone banked at the campaign’s state headquarters in Columbia.

“It was an amazing experience getting to travel and be so close to the campaign,” said Alfonso, Students for Rubio’s social media chair. “It was a quick trip, but I feel like we did so much.”

The GW team was accompanied by several other pro-Rubio student groups. Catholic University, Georgetown University, and American University each have chapters that are affiliated with an umbrella organization known as D.C. Students for Rubio.

“It’s so important to find a candidate whose values you share,” Alfonso said, “And I’m still looking forward to the rest of the primaries even if we lost this one.” Rubio received 22.5 percent of the vote and finished second to Donald Trump.

Alfonso was also able to attend Rubio’s pre-primary party, where she met several of the campaign’s chief staffers.

“It was very cool,” said Alfonso. “It made me sure of my involvement in politics.”

Further north and farther left, GW Students for Hillary spent Saturday morning phone banking from campus. The organization’s “Campaign HQ” event, located in Duquès Hall, also included live caucus coverage and a special guest appearance from Jason Tengco, Deputy Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

“We called Hillary supporters in Nevada to remind them about the caucus and answer any questions about their polling location,” said senior Alex Barbieri, the group’s vice president. Earlier this month, Barbieri led a trip of 33 students to Concord, N.H. for a weekend of campaigning prior to the state’s primary.

“After the Nevada victory, we are all really energized and excited for the South Carolina primaries and for Super Tuesday,” Barbieri said. “We look forward to continuing our work in ensuring GW students do all we can to see Hillary as the 45th president of the United States.” Hillary Clinton won Nevada with 52.6 percent of the vote.

GW for Bernie did not organize Nevada programming over the weekend and instead focused their efforts on participating in the College and University Straw Poll. Around 500 participants took part in GW’s first attempt at an ad-hoc vote.

“Fortunately Bernie won the straw poll on the Democratic side,” said junior Alyssa Keiko Tsuboi, a GW for Bernie representative. “Bernie has a ton of momentum moving forward, he has already exceeded the expectations put before this cycle, and will continue to do so in the Super Tuesday states.”

At a place notorious for being “the most politically active campus in America,” Alfonso says she understands how the 2016 presidential election can get overwhelming. Still, she believes that it’s important for young people to get involved with politics.

“It’s our responsibility to figure out what things we value most, whether it’s caring for senior citizens or making college more affordable,” she said. “It’s now or never to make a difference. And how else would we be able to take pictures with our favorite candidates?”

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