Students share personal political stories for the coming election

Dan Mackenzie

Passion for Politics: Monica Leier

Leier, senior in history and political science, has been with the Obama campaign for only a few months now, but she believes in him enough to take on a job with them. She said she is especially excited because in 2008 she was unable to vote.

“I was too young by just a couple of days,” Leier said.

Leier is a Fall Fellow for the campaign, which she said is basically like an intern. She works a lot of days, canvassing door to door and speaking to people on campus.

“Most people are pretty excited to talk to me,” she said.

When asked if many people try to debate policy with her or argue, she said she gets a handful, but “most of them aren’t really rude. It hasn’t been bad at all.”

She said most people seem to be concerned about health care and the economy.

Over the past few weeks, she and her fellow campaign volunteers have managed to register hundreds of voters. They had people registering voters at the Memorial Union when tickets for the president’s visit were being handed out, in addition to their presence in the free-speech zone for the past couple of weeks.

Contender Defender: Jon Laudner

It can be tough for some people to go against the crowd. But Laudner, sophomore in pre-business and member of the College Republicans, said there is a lot of excitement for Romney on campus. Laudner said that while it seems like a majority of students are Obama supporters, he and his fellow Republicans want to show Obama, “that he doesn’t have the youth vote locked up like he thinks he does.”

Laudner has some numbers to back him up. There were more than 50 students gathered to show their support for Romney, or rather, their disapproval of Obama. The group had signs and made their presence known as they marched up Osborn Drive. They were calling to the Obama supporters saying “Mitt 2012” and “Where are the jobs?”

Other than the respectful calling-out to the Obama crowd, they were fairly reserved. Laudner had said that the College Republicans “don’t condone heckling.”

Traveling Man: DeVante Williams

Most of the supporters on campus Tuesday were ISU students from Iowa. But Williams, 19, from Gary, Ind., is just a man who likes to follow the president. Williams, along with a handful of his friends, travel across the country following Obama from stop to stop, selling buttons and T-shirts.

While most kids might spend their time following their favorite band around the country, Williams said they want to make sure people can support the president in style. His uncle, he said, had designed all of the T-shirts and buttons.

He was here only for a brief time, as he and his friends were off to Colorado to support the president later in the week.

Political Veteran: Margo McNabb

Many of the students at Iowa State were excited for a chance, perhaps a once in a lifetime chance, to see a sitting president speak on their campus. McNabb, though, has seen presidents come and go.

McNabb, an Ames resident since 1953, is the former county chief for the Story County Democrats. Not only has she seen presidents come and go, she has also cast the ballot as an elector to bring them into office.

McNabb served as county chief back in the ’80s and ’90s for more than 10 years. She gained a lot of friends throughout her time — even Sen. Tom Harkin gave her a shout-out from behind the podium as he gave his speech.

International Appreciation: Jonathan Watkins

He has only been in Iowa two weeks. During his first week, he went to a shooting range with his conservative friends from his new church. This week, he was in the front row to hear Obama speak. Watkins, research assistant and Fulbright scholar, said his first taste of life in America has been sort of weird.

Few people traveled as far as Watkins to see the president deliver his speech. He came from Aukland, New Zealand to work with faculty at Iowa State to research earthquake engineering.

He said that back home in New Zealand, the crowd is cheering for Obama.

“People are excited about him,” he said.

Watkins says from an international perspective, Obama has been a great president.

“He’s having dialogue with the world,” Watkins said, “Not just being a warmonger.”

He also said that the healthcare debate is somewhat of a mystery to him, not because he doesn’t understand it, though.

“Where I’m from, it’s weird that students have to pay to go to the hospital. If I’m sick, I just go.”