COLUMBIA — Campaign intern Rebecca Ackerman worked hard to get Sen. Marco Rubio’s South Carolina campaign headquarters decorated and ready for its Nov. 11 groundbreaking.
The payoff? She got to see the man she hopes will be president.
Ackerman, an international studies student at the University of South Carolina, worked in Rubio’s Washington office over the summer and now believes he is the right man to be President.
“I fell in love with what he believes in, like what he says about the American dream and education,” she said. “Seeing him speak in person is exciting, because we could be 10 feet away from someone who could be the next president of the United States.”
The headquarters, located at 790 Huger St. in Columbia, is easily seen from the street because of the dozens of Marco Rubio signs posted in the windows. The inside of the room is designed for media tapings and events, with counters and shelves available for reporters. There are also homemade signs taped on every free wall that say “A New American Century” and “Marco 2016.”
“It’s come a long way, we’ve been working really hard every day,” said Ackerman, 21. “Now it’s an awesome place for people to come for the next few months and get involved.”
Other USC students said they came to learn more about the candidate before they make up their minds who to support in 2016.
“I’ve been paying close attention to this race, and I went to the last debate in Colorado,” said Katie Shoaf, 20. “I haven’t decided who I support, but he is one of my favorites.”
Lauren Diahara, 20, and Emily King, 20, also said they were at the event because they wanted to be more involved in the political process.
“This is the first election I can be a part of, and I don’t want to be blind to what’s going on,” said Diahara.
Rubio took the stage to loud cheers and applause, saying South Carolina was a state he intends to visit often. He then shared his views on the American military and how it can be improved, which he noted was especially important to talk about considering it was Veterans Day.
“National security is the reason we have a federal government,” he said.
Rubio also outlined his desire to “take better care” of veterans by improving their access to health care and to encourage more students to consider trade schools and vocational training.
He is currently tied for third place for the nomination in South Carolina, according to a Real Clear Politics poll on Nov. 10, which shows Donald Trump and Ben Carson leading the pack. Rubio and Ted Cruz are both polling at 10 percent.
After the speech, Stephanie Reyes, 48, said she came to the event because she believes in his vision for the country.
“My husband is in the military, and this country needs to be safe,” she said.
Reyes brought her son Gunner, 10, with her because, “the future is about him, and he needs to see how politics work.”
Sarah Martin writes for The Carolina Reporter, a publication of the USC School of Journalism.