If you’re like me, you spent the past couple of weeks processing everything you saw and heard during the Republican and Democratic conventions.
If you’re like Ev Boyle, you did that too — but with a special perspective. The 2001 Staples High School graduate was on the scene — including the floor — in both Cleveland and Philadelphia.
Ev’s official title is associate director, University of Southern California Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy. He organizes programs and events in government, journalism and technology.
But he’s also a political junkie. So working with Annenberg professors like David Eisenhower (Ike’s grandson, Nixon’s son-in-law) and Geoffrey Cowan (former director of the Voice of America, author of a recent book on presidential primaries) is a dream come true.
Ev brought 6 student-journalists to the 2 conventions. “We pushed our students to go in with open minds and hearts. We wanted them to talk to as many people as they could.” They — and Ev — did exactly that.
They reveled in breakfasts with delegates, the controlled chaos of floor sessions, and random sidewalk meetings with everyone from Katie Couric and Samantha Bee to Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson and UK Brexit leader Nigel Farage (who knew either of them were at the conventions?).
Ev realized that being on the floor was interesting and special — but it was also cramped, hot, and hard to know what was happening. “You could see and hear a lot better on TV,” he notes.
Marjorie Margolies — a former Pennsylvania congresswoman, and Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law — helped arrange a meeting with former presidential candidate John Kasich. The Ohio governor famously stayed away from the convention in his home state — but he met the Annenberg group for a long, insightful conversation.
Texas Republican congressman Pete Sessions — chair of the House Rules Committee — was especially “kind and accommodating” to the group, Ev says.
Delegate breakfasts were particularly intriguing. At California’s — on the 1st day of the Democratic convention — Ev and his students heard the thunderous boos from Bernie Sanders supporters that greeted Nancy Pelosi and others. That incident did not get a lot of press, but it presaged the California delegation’s actions through the rest of the week.
Ev and his group learned something everywhere they went. In Cleveland, 100 congressional pages — ages 15 to 24, from all 50 states — gathered. When asked how many had supported Donald Trump from the beginning, no hands were raised.
Two other questions: How many were Trump supporters now? How many were “Never Trump”? Ev says they were split 50-50.
Ev helped his young student journalists seek out interesting stories. They interviewed hotel workers, female Trump supporters, a delegate who at 17 years old was younger than they, and Democratic officials who switched parties to vote for Trump.
The 2 conventions provided “an eye-opener into the process of politics,” Ev says.
And stories he can tell through the 2020 election.