RNC interns work behind the scenes of history

By Marissa Warden

Both Kyle Archer ’10 and Mitch Stepleton ’10 interned at the Republican National Convention last week, but they had very different experiences.A week before the RNC, Archer, a Political Science major, attended a convention at Augsburg College which included seminars and small group discussions. During the week of the convention he was assigned to intern with the Houston Chronicle. His primary job was retrieving quotes for the Chronicle’s reporters. Archer was also able to do some freelance work. Despite having no previous reporting experience, four stories he wrote were printed-three in the Houston Chronicle and one in the Albany Times Union.

Archer interviewed Mike Huckabee and wrote an article on a log cabin Republican party, but he said the most memorable experience was “getting zip-tied.”

After a Rage Against the Machine concert held in St. Paul Archer followed the erupting riot that ensued and was detained for 20 minutes with “zip-ties”-fake plastic handcuffs-by the police. He was released when police found press credentials in his pocket.

Most of Archer’s time as an intern was spent on assignments for the reporters, including hunting down elected officials for statements. “You’d think the people you have to interview are a lot harder to get to than they are,” Archer said.

Archer wanted to be involved with the RNC because, as he said, it was “too good of an opportunity to pass up. As far as resume builders go, that’s one that only happens every four years.”

In contrast Stepleton, an economics major, said his reasons for interning at the RNC were not political. He worked for the Operations and Logistics division of the RNC, which involved making emergency deliveries during the Convention, managing directional signs throughout the Xcel and creating a chapel for a demanding senator. He began his internship on June 2 and worked eight hour days, seven days a week through Sept 4.

“None of it was glamorous,” Stepleton said. “It was a lot of work-great experience but a lot of work.”

On an average day, Stepleton would make a walk through the Xcel, affirm that everything on his spreadsheet was in order and look over the new directional sign changes.

“I basically know the Xcel backwards and forwards,” Stepleton said. At one point he had to count the number of trashcans in the Xcel so Waste Management could place a recycling bin next to each trash can. There were 376 trashcans when he counted.

Stepleton’s banal experience was meliorated by his celebrity encounters, and he met Bob Dole, Mitt Romney, Dennise Hastert, Wolf Blitzer an Jon Voight.

This was Stepleton’s first intern experience. His interest in getting involved in politics on the staffer level initially drew him to the internship.

“After doing it,” Stepleton said, “I don’t want to get involved in politics as much. You don’t get any credit and it’s very demanding.