Meeting all the Candidates; Two Students’ Venture to Meet Them All

February 13, 2020

By Anna Brennan-Curry

As the NH Primary approached, roommates Julianne Plourde ’20 and Sarah Murphy ’20 decided to meet as many of the candidates – Republican and Democrat – as they possibly could.

As the chair and communications co-chair of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics (NHIOP) Kevin B. Harrington Student Ambassador Program, Plourde and Murphy had the opportunity to meet candidates as they attended Politics and Eggs, town halls, and other events on campus.

“Part of why I came to Saint Anselm College, was because I knew of all of the opportunities they had at the Institute of Politics, especially the debate they would have when I was a senior,” shares Julianne Plourde. “When I came in freshman year, Sarah and I both got involved at the same time, and we talked about how cool it would be when we were seniors getting to meet all of the candidates and getting involved with the debate.”

The senior politics majors also work at the NHIOP’s VideoLink studio, where many candidates have stopped by to conduct television interviews. Both student’s favorite memories of meeting candidates happened in the studio. For Murphy, a meeting with Senator Elizabeth Warren after a busy day of town halls, with a trip to Washington, DC to vote in the impeachment trial in between, gave her the opportunity to learn more about that experience and Senator Warren’s plans to address New Hampshire’s needs. For Plourde, the chance to meet and spend time with Representative Tulsi Gabbard and members of her family in an informal setting, was a good way to see a candidate in a new light.

“Everyone was willing to talk to myself and to Julianne because they knew we were students,” shared Sarah Murphy. “As student ambassadors of the Institute of Politics, we got to have, not only conversations about policy but personal conversations. They would often ask what our goals were. It was awesome to have those interactions.”

As of primary day, Plourde reached her goal of meeting all of the major candidates still in the race. Murphy had met everyone except for Tom Steyer, Vice President Joe Biden, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Both have taken photos with most of the candidates they have met, some together, some apart, and a wall in their dorm room decorated with photos is evidence of their success.

During this busy political season, both students have taken advantage of the opportunities available to them as Saint Anselm students. Working at the VideoLink studio requires early mornings or late nights; arriving for appointments as early as 4 am or as late as midnight. They have both had internships at ABC News leading up to the ABC Democratic Debate and worked with CNN during the April 2019 town halls.

Murphy, a communication minor, wants to get a job working in the media after graduation. She’s well on her way while juggling jobs at WMUR and the NH Chronicle as well as her school and extracurricular activities. Plourde, minoring in criminal justice studies, will attend law school at the University of New Hampshire next year, and has an interest in public policy.