Ten members of the Harvard College Democrats helped carry the Kerry campaign one piece of luggage at time, when they met the Democratic presidential nominee last Friday at Hanscom Field Airport in Bedford, Mass.
The students shook hands with John F. Kerry and then unloaded the luggage of the campaign and press corps at the airport. Another team of 10 College Dems met the motorcade at the hotel and carried the bags from the curb.
The College Dems who met Kerry were surprised by his tan skin and tall stature. They were energized for the campaign’s final push before the Nov. 2 election.
“We watched Kerry’s plane land 30 feet away,” said Greg M. Schmidt ’06, campaigns director for the College Dems. “Kerry walked out, waved to everyone, came over, shook our hands, and thanked us for coming by.”
Raquel O. Alvarenga ’07, said she enjoyed the brief interaction with members of the Kerry entourage.
“I have this hero worship for Kerry so meeting him was amazing. Everyone was shaking when we shook his hand,” said the New York voter. “There’s very little you could say at first...you are meeting your political hero.”
Kristina M. Moore ’08, who has been in college only two weeks was equally impressed with her chance to meet the Democratic presidential nominee.
“To get a handshake and a word with John Kerry was just absolutely amazing,” she said. “Absolutely unbelievable...a little surreal.”
Moore liked seeing the constellation of followers around Kerry. She said the experience showed her the intense level of preparation required whenever and wherever Kerry travels.
But despite her commitment to the campaign, Moore is not going to vote for Kerry in the Nov. 2 election; she won’t turn 18 in time.
While they spent less than three minutes with Kerry and more than 10 times that laboring for the campaign, the Kerry enthusiasts said that even unloading the luggage made for a memorable experience.
Among the luggage, Moore spotted packages of peanut butter, jelly and grape juice, rumored to be staples of Kerry’s daily breakfast.
Thanking volunteers for their hard work is important to the Kerry campaign according to Justine D. Griffin, the campaign’s Massachusetts communication director.
“There are plenty of times our campaign reaches out to local colleges for help,” Griffin said. “We always try to make sure that the people who have done some hard work for the motorcade get to meet John Kerry.”
The 20 Harvard volunteers were chosen from a pool of about 60 students based on the time they had contributed to campaigning for Kerry and Edwards, said Andy J. Frank ’05, president of the College Dems.
In this under-30 demographic, Kerry’s lead has given way to a neck-and-neck race with 45 percent of voters for Kerry and 44 percent for Bush, according to a poll reported by MSNBC last week.
Both campaigns have been targeting college-aged students. Kerry appeared on “The Daily Show;” a Bush campaign blog follows the president’s 22-year-old twin daughters.
“The Heinz-Kerry and Edwards kids have been enormously active on college campuses,” said Griffin. “[Kerry’s stepson] Chris Heinz is trying to get to Harvard this Tuesday.”
The last time Kerry came to Harvard was to participate in Chris Matthews’s “Hardball” TV series, which was filmed on campus last Fall.
No visits by prominent members of the Bush campaign are expected between now and the election, said Lauren Truesdell ’06, spokeswoman for the Harvard Republican Club (HRC). But Truesdell said that members of the HRC aren’t too worried.
“Running the country or campaigning for re-election...” Truesdell said. “We think those should be his priorities right now.”
—Staff writer Faryl W. Ury can be reached at email@example.com.