UNH Student Q&A on the Republican National Convention

Jessica Pena

Dramatic, thrilling, suspenseful and Clint Eastwood are a few of the things that could be said about this year’s Republican National Convention (RNC). The convention was hosted in Tampa, Fla., and it was a party. Tampa welcomed politicians, press, Republican citizens and a UNH student.

Simone Quartey, a junior and a political science major, interned with CNN this past summer and was given the opportunity to go to the convention. Now, the Charger Bulletin has an exclusive interview with Quartey and her experience at the RNC.

Charger Bulletin: How did you hear about the internship?

Simone Quartey: The internship was advertised throughout campus. You had to write an essay for the application process and a resume. So, you just hope and get it.

CB: What did you do in your internship?

SQ: You go on trips, go to academic seminars, listen to some guest speakers and get assignments. But basically just learning about the mechanics of presidential conventions, such as how they work and how they came about. I actually had to write a paper on why presidential conventions were relevant to the current political process. The second point of the internship, which is the internship itself, is that you are placed into two assignments. You can either volunteer for the RNC committee, where you assigned to the committee of arrangements, or the television media, and even the print media.

CB: Who did you meet or get the chance to talk to?

SQ: I had a lot of brief moments. I talked to CNN producers. I met, or shook hands with, Mark Preston, CNN Political Director. It’s a political convention, so constantly running into the members of the media, politicians and congressman. I had a lovely conversation with a journalist who worked for CNN. He was informative and had a lot to say about the media. I sat in on a group discussion with Mickey Edwards, former congressman. He had a lot to say about the political process and where the Republican Party is at ideologically, where it was then, where it is now and how he feels about it. I got to meet a lot of great people who taught me a lot.

CB: Which figure did you find most interesting about the RNC?

SQ: I found Marco Rubio interesting. I feel like that he’s one the best examples of the party trying to gain a more diverse side. While I don’t agree with his political opinion, he was one the most dynamic speakers that was at the RNC. I think Susan Martinez was interesting as well. Also, a lot of candidates of color speaking there had great things to say about the party and had an affected pitch to obtain Latino and African-American voters.

CB: So, I just need to ask about Clint Eastwood. What was going through your head?

SQ: [Laughs.] The Clint Eastwood thing was something. I think Rachel Maddow’s reaction to the speech was my reaction. All the people from both parties, and me looked at each other and were like, “What the hell is going on?” It was weird. It was bizarre. It feeds into every negative stereotype of the Republican Party. It was bizarre. I don’t know what to make of that. All I can say is that if you are a member of the party faithful, then that was your thing. But I don’t think it did anything positive for the party and it took away a lot for Mitt Romney’s message. I thought it was strange.

CB: What aspect of the Republican Party did you find very interesting?

SQ: I found interesting the young Republicans. If they’re anything like the people I met in Tampa, then the party still has a future. There’s been a lot of talk in the media that the Republican Party is going to become extinct because of demographics issues, and that may be true, but young republicans are smart. While they’re obviously very conservative and hold very strong principles, they acknowledge the people in their party, and if they are the future of the party, then the party has a good chance. They are a lot smarter about the issues and where the country is than their political elders. So, the greatest thing I learned and found interesting was the group of young republicans.

CB: Would you recommend this opportunity to anyone?

SQ: I would recommend it to students. I would probably recommend that if you’re a Democrat, then go to the RNC and if you’re a Republican, then go to the Democratic National Convention (DNC), because you will learn something about your fellow Americans around your age that you may not learn. A lot became friends with people from different backgrounds, views, religion and etc. But I would most definitely recommend this trip to communication majors. Students, who have an interest in journalism, would have a more hands on experience than any other internship.

CB: What was the best part of the RNC and what did you get out of it?

SQ: I got the most unfiltered access to the convention itself. I got to be there when tension rose between politicians. I got to be there when they made their speeches. I was also there when the media formed an opinion, spin or angle on the story to cloud voters’ votes. So, I was glad that I was there for myself to form an opinion without being influenced by the media.

CB: So, how was the overall experience?

SQ: To sum it up in one word, it was educational. It was educational in the sense that I’m a registered Democrat and I got to be around people who share different political views than me, and ideological opposite me. Also, it was educational because I got a better understanding of how much work, and I learned more about myself as a person. I got a once-in-a-lifetime experience interning for a respectable institution, CNN. I learned the in’s and out’s, and how the business works, especially how the political candidates coverage works. So, educational is the best way to describe it.