Sunday, September 25, 2011

An Amazing Third Week!

I have had an awesome time this past week. My days were full of experiences I once thought unimaginable just a short semester ago. My internship is going great, my class at TWC is such a unique and rewarding opportunity, and I have learned that being a political junkie is not so lonely after all!

On Monday, all Washington Center interns (around 320 students) were required to attend a discussion and question and answer segment moderated by Steve Scully with former Senators Lott and Dorgan on the issue of bipartisanship. The event was recorded for CSPAN and aired at 7:55 central time on CSPAN-1. This gave me the chance to make my national television debut, asking the second question during the Q&A segment about 22 minutes into the broadcast. Though I did not realize it, this would be only my first interaction of the day with former elected officials.

That evening during my class, which is also taped for television and airs on CSPAN-3 Fridays at around 4:30 central time, our guest was Gerald Rafshoon. He was the Media Strategist for the '76 Carter for President Campaign and a former White House Communications Director. A surprise came when around ten minutes into the class former President Jimmy Carter called in to discuss the campaign and take questions.

There are only 24 Washington Center students in this particular class and since our professor/ moderator of the program Steve Scully is still learning everyone’s name, he surprised me by saying, "President Carter I think some of our students have questions at this point. Trevor, I believe you have a question, go ahead." I thought of something relevant to campaigns and came out all right. Then again, when it came time for the Q&A segment with Mr. Rafshoon, and because at that point in time I believe he could only remember the name "Trevor", Steve said, "Go ahead Trevor." Though I was caught off guard twice that evening, it was a very enjoyable class and I am grateful for the opportunity.

The next day at work, the Republican National Committee organized a field trip for the interns in the building, around 20 in all. We walked to the Daily Caller, an online publication started by the man with the bowtie, Tucker Carlson. He has worked for CBS, ABC, CNN, and now is a consultant for Fox News. He came in and sat directly across the table from me for almost an hour, discussing his past, giving advice, and answering any questions we asked. He was very down to earth and extremely personable, making it another amazing day.

On Wednesday I was back to my duties with the NRCC. Mainly stuffing envelopes, calling potential NRCC donors, and doing some research on various people the NRCC is interested in. No matter how small the task, I am happy to be part of the team.

That evening they did let me help with a reception for Congressman Mike Scully of Pennsylvania. It was a small gathering and I was able to speak with a lot of interesting people who make their living on the hill. Then on Friday morning I volunteered to help with a breakfast for the Texas State Society held at the Capitol Hill Club, again affording me the opportunity to meet people who openly describe themselves as fellow “political junkies”.

Perhaps the most exciting day for me came late Thursday evening, when my beautiful wife Leslie flew in for her first visit since I left. We have been enjoying each other’s time together and I will hate seeing her leave early next Tuesday morning.

Besides my wife leaving, I look forward to my fourth week in DC. I love every second and know all too well that the time is flying by. I try not to think about that too much and make the most out of every experience. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Second Week Working on the Hill

Well, I finished up my second week at the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). It was pretty awesome at some points and pretty boring at others. I’ll focus on the awesome. I also would like to speak to my course and some of the upcoming events that I am looking forward to this week.

Beginning on Tuesday of last week all the interns at the Republican National Committee (RNC), of which I am included, had lunch in the Reagan Room of the RNC. The RNC Communications Director came in and we all got to question him for over an hour. It was very interesting as he is the man behind the scenes of every media appearance the RNC makes and the framing of the RNC’s message whenever they issue a statement to the media.

This upcoming Tuesday, all RNC interns and there are only around 15 of us, get to take a tour of the Daily Caller and then chat with its founder, Tucker Carlson. I realize few if any know who these people are that I have and will be referring to, besides the other political junkies out there, so I’ll try and get a picture to spur your memory, think bowtie.

Mainly this past week I have been stuffing envelopes and making a lot of phone calls back to Oklahoma, the NRCC has an event in Tulsa on the 29th of this month. If anyone wants to attend please let me know, it would really make me look good if I could sell a few tickets. I actually did get one person to RSVP with me over the phone. She paid $1,000 for a general reception ticket to the event. When I told my superiors and gave them her credit card info, they acted like I had done something amazing. I felt like this is what the goal of all these calls had been all along and wondered what the big deal was. If I was in charge I would have been disappointed in my interns only getting one RSVP out of 8 pages of phone calls.

On Thursday of this past week the Director of the Finance Department, who is also from Oklahoma, took me to the Oklahoma State Society Congressional Reception that was held in the Capitol building. All of Oklahoma’s Congressmen, along with Governor Mary Fallin where present at the event and I got to meet them all. I also ran into the President of the Bank of Stillwater who was my father's best man in his wedding and graduated from OSU with him, talk about a small world.

Friday I was able to attend a NRCC PAC meeting where the Director of the Political Department gave an overview of all the seats they were targeting in the up-coming 2012 Congressional election. There were around 20 people there and I assume they were big money donors because he kept talking about them being excited to write checks to the NRCC. The meeting began with a speech from Rob Barker, who recently won the special election in New York 9 and Ahmeday, who won the special election in Nevada. The NRCC feels pretty confident in adding seats to the current Republican Majority in the House in 2012.

Well RSU, I’m getting ready for the Dallas game and have to start on my Political Leadership homework which is due tomorrow. Oh, my wife is visiting this week, so if anyone has any ideas of something romantic I can do for her while she is here please let me know. I have no clue when it comes to things like that. Tomorrow we go to a panel discussion featuring former Senator Trent Lott, and then our guest at the CSPAN class is going to be Jimmy Carters campaign manager. A little birdie told me after last week’s class to have a question ready for President Carter himself, so we’ll see.

Monday, September 12, 2011

My First Week

The US Capitol on a Sunny Saturday Afternoon

Well students of Rogers State, I would like to begin this blog with a piece of humble advice. Do not fly in to Dulles International Airport when flying into Washington D.C. I arrived on the 31st of August and because of a cheap ticket from Southwest, I ended up spending $80 dollars on a taxi and one hour in traffic. It wasn’t worth it! Now to my actual post…….

Wow! So far my entire experience at The Washington Center (TWC) has been absolutely amazing! I know I have only been here just short of a week and a half now, but wow! I am interning at the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), I have my own apartment just eight blocks from Capitol Hill, I have been an arm’s length away from Speaker of the John Boehner, and I have taken a cruise on the Potomac River. Please allow me start at the beginning.

On the 1st of September we had an orientation where many different speakers came to address us. One was the President of the Washington Center program, the very top of the totem pole here so to speak. There were 320 students from around the world all seated in the auditorium and he began to pick individuals out, asking them where they were from, what they were majoring in, how they heard of the program, etc. The last student he picked out was yours truly.

I began by telling him I hailed from the thriving metropolis of Nowata, Oklahoma. I then said that I had heard of TWC program after asking one of my professors, Dr. Carolyn Taylor, how to become more active in politics or where to even begin. Upon hearing the name he immediately knew exactly where I went to school. He informed the entire student body that Stratton Taylor, Dr. Taylor’s husband, was an alumnus of TWC and then gave us all a brief history of Stratton’s accomplishments. He then went on to say how Stratton Taylor truly encompassed the three pillars of TWC; civic engagement, leadership, and giving back to the community. It made me very proud to be a student at Rogers State University.

I began my internship the following Tuesday in the financial department of the NRCC. This is basically the fund raising arm of the NRCC. I really lucked out here because the Director of this department is actually from Norman. He was excited that another “Okie” was working in his area and I am excited to be working for him. Something everyone keeps saying again and again is how important networking is and I see this as an important contact to have.

The most exciting thing I was included in this past week was a welcome back reception for Republican members of Congress at The Capitol Hill Club. I was only giving out name tags to lobbyists but the room was so small that I was literally, at different points in the evening, standing right next to Speaker Boehner, Rep. Darrell Issa, Rep. John Sullivan, Rep. Frank Lucas, and many others, I do not believe the smile ever left my face that night.

We also have to take a course in addition to our internship and I believe I lucked out here as well. I enrolled in a course that is being done with C-SPAN. It was open to twenty-five students and will be broadcast on C-SPAN 3 every Friday evening. Every week we will have different guests and we will be able to ask them whatever questions we may have related to Presidential politics. Just tonight I was able to get in a couple of questions with Jonathan Martin from Politico.

The most exciting aspect however is that our Professor for the three hour class, held every Monday, is none other than Steve Scully! If anyone, besides myself, ever watches C-Span one or two on the weekends then you should know who he is. He hosts different programs and has interviewed nearly every political figure you could imagine. He is also a really great teacher and super easy to talk to. Its the picture at the top.

Everything is like a dream come true so far. The way everything is shaping up I hope to be able share still more awesome experiences that Rogers State has made possible for me in the days and weeks to come, so be sure to check out this blog at least once a week to hear all about them.