What it takes to engage the candidates

Sherrod Brown

This campaign season, ONE at Ohio State University has been keeping busy tracking down politicians on the campaign trail. We’ve done our best to attend both President Obama’s and Governor Romney’s rallies to show both candidates that we are fighting on behalf of the world’s poorest to keep smart foreign aid programs alive. Being students with busy schedules, this pursuit can certainly be frustrating at times, but on a chilly evening last week, our dedication paid off.

Photo caption: ONE members with Sherrod Brown

As we entered the event, we quickly spotted Senator Sherrod Brown who immediately recognized our ONE T-shirts. We thanked the Senator for his continued support of foreign aid, and he explained how important an investment he believed it to be. The Senator was happy to speak with us about the issues, while Congressional District Leader and past Campus Leader, Kara Ford, spoke of her influential trip to Ghana this past summer. We made sure to give the senator a ONE band and he was kind enough to pose for a photo with us. Senator Brown then thanked us in return for our advocacy work. We made our way to the venue excited and inspired from our interaction with him.

Kara+Obama

Photo caption: ONE Congressional District Leader Kara Ford, with Obama in the background

The venue was crowded, but almost by accident, Kara and I managed to snag a spot on the rope line close to where President Obama and his preceding speakers would enter. After an hour or so of exciting speakers, it was the President’s turn to take the stage. On his way to the podium he shook both of our hands and Kara mentioned that we were there representing the ONE Campaign. He smiled in response and made his way to the stage.

We were fairly certain he would be returning to shake hands on his way out so we had our cameras ready. We were the last few people before the venue exit and when he reached us I looked him in the eye and thanked him for all he has done to support and protect foreign aid programs. The crowd was hectic, but the President assured me that it was important to him, smiled, and continued to move down the line.

Obama Hand

Kara was able to get this shot of me shaking the President’s hand with a ONE band is visible on my wrist. Afterwards, Kara noticed a secret service agent collecting gifts for the President so we gave him a ONE band to give to Obama. His response made us so proud of all the ONE volunteers across the country. He smiled and said of course he would, and that the President had already received many ONE bands. We laughed and said he could add it to his collection! He seemed completely familiar with ONE and genuinely impressed with our cause.

Getting to thank the President for all he has done for foreign aid was such a motivating experience for both Kara and me. We felt inspired to know that both Senator Brown and President Obama appreciated all of ONE’s work and were encouraging us to continue our dedicated fight against extreme poverty.

-Kirsten Brademeyer, Campus Leader, Ohio State University