10/30/2008 Staff

On the Campaign Trail

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Ian Lubetkin '09 with Sen. John McCain.

Ian Lubetkin ’09 stood with Sen. John McCain when no one believed McCain could win the New Hampshire primary.

“I signed up to volunteer last October when things weren’t looking good for the senator. That wasn’t important to me. He is someone I admire and respect,” Lubetkin said.

And even if McCain is down in the polls less than a week from Election Day, Lubetkin said he won’t quit. He’ll work the regular 18-hour days until the end, whether it is bitter or sweet.

Both presidential campaigns have recognized the importance of energizing support among young volunteers. At Franklin & Marshall, some have taken the semester off to volunteer with the presidential campaigns. Others are still on campus juggling classes and campaign work.

“This has been the most rewarding and the best thing I’ve done in my life in terms of the ability to serve the senator and this country,” said Lubetkin, who took the year off to join the McCain campaign.

Wes Fillman ’11 shares the sentiment, but for a different candidate.

“I am doing this for my generation because we need a leader that we can really believe in and someone who can fix the problems in Washington and truly care for the middle class,” Fillman said.

He didn’t take off the semester. Instead, Fillman juggles his class schedule and his campaign schedule, splitting any spare minute he has among the College Democrats, the Pennsylvania College Democrats, for which he works as communications director, and the local Obama campaign.

Fillman, who is also secretary of The Diplomatic Congress, helped organize student volunteers when Obama visited Lancaster in early September and helped organize Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ visit earlier this month. He has also been active in getting his fellow students registered to vote. He spends much of his spare time at Obama Headquarters in Lancaster, a short walk from campus on Harrisburg Avenue.

“Headquarters is intense, with tens of volunteers at the office at any given time, people of all ages and backgrounds working for one common goal,” Fillman said. “The office has people constantly making phone calls and heading out across the county to knock on doors.”

Lubetkin runs the information technology “shop” at McCain campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va. He has ventured out onto the campaign trail a couple of times, including traveling with Gov. Sarah Palin’s entourage after the Republican National Convention in August. In September, he visited F&M when McCain spoke at the Alumni Sports and Fitness Center. Shortly after that, he traveled to Alaska with Gov. Palin.

“She had the traveling staff over to her house for dinner,” Lubetkin said. “She is very genuine. The way she acts with visitors is the way she is in person.”

In this final week, Lubetkin said he is constantly on the go, making sure everything runs as smoothly as possible and there are no technical problems. Lately, he noted, his days start early and end in the early morning hours.

The Obama campaign runs at a fever pitch, Fillman said.

This coming weekend, “my work will be cranked up a notch with planning events on campus and throughout the city. On Election Day, we will ‘dorm storm’ the College Houses and College Row Apartments to make sure students get out and vote,” Fillman said.

They may not agree on which candidate to vote for on Nov. 4, but Lubetkin and Fillman do agree on one thing.

“Get out and vote,” Lubetkin said. “This is an important election.”

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Obama volunteers Wes Fillman ’11 and Lyn Moore '09 stand at the podium following a rally for Sen. Barack Obama in Lancaster in September.

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