USF ST. PETERSBURG
New Hampshire primaries become a classroom TWENTY-THREE USF ST. PETERSBURG STUDENTS gained the experience of a lifetime in New Hampshire, interning for presidential campaigns for the 10 days leading up to the state’s primary. “Road to the White House,” a quadrennial course taught by Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan, immerses students in the history and politics of U.S. presidential campaigns and the election process. Before embarking on their journey, students chose the Democratic and Republican politicians they wanted to represent: Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Martin O’Malley, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump. “We want them to be enthusiastic about their candidate,” says McLauchlan, associate professor of political science at USFSP, who has taught the course four times since 2004. “It’s really difficult to feel motivated and to campaign in the snow for a candidate you don’t believe should be president.” Freshman political science major David Thompson started his first day on the campaign representing O’Malley, but switched to Marco Rubio when the Maryland governor dropped out of the race. “I wanted to just be part of the campaign of somebody that I knew and endorse his policies,” says Thompson. He decided to represent Rubio after having played the role of Rubio during a mock presidential debate at USFSP. “I’d spent so much time learning about him and his policies that it only felt natural that I could easily recite his themes off the back of my hand.”
PROFESSOR JUDITHANNE SCOURFIELD MCLAUCHLAN’S
In New Hampshire, the robust daily itinerary for the class began early in the morning and continued until early the next morning. Between a meager few hours of sleep each day, students engaged in seminars and meetings with journalists and academics. They went on several field trips, including a visit to the state capitol to meet with lawmakers. However, the majority of their days involved canvassing for their candidates. When they weren’t campaigning door-to-door or logging hours making phone calls to promote their presidential hopeful, the students attended town hall meetings and got to speak with their candidates face-to-face. “There’s really nothing like being up there, in the snow, meeting the candidates and being a part of the process firsthand. It’s extraordinary,” McLauchlan says. The students say they were grateful to have had the opportunity to experience the election process in a state that is so politically focused. “While we were in New Hampshire, someone said, ‘New Hampshire doesn’t have sports: They have elections,’ ”says Alyssa Winston, an Interdisciplinary Social Science major who interned for the Sanders campaign. “It was a completely different experience that we got there than we would have received working primaries here in Florida.”
STUDENTS GATHERED AT USFSP AS THEY PREPARED TO TAKE THE “ROAD TO THE WHITE HOUSE.”
– CASEY CRANE ’06 | USFSP
SPRING 2016 15
The official magazine of the University of South Florida Alumni Association.