Mississippi students lend a hand at rally


Published: Monday, November 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 1, 2004 at 12:20 a.m.
The 28 Mississippi State University students who boarded a Gainesville-bound bus Friday knew they would be coming to enemy territory after their football team walloped the Gators a couple of weeks ago.
But the students, who came to volunteer with the University of Florida College Republicans, said they were happy to leave football battles in Starkville for party unity in Gainesville.
"This is just such a wonderful opportunity," said Jeremy Wolfe, 20.
Heather Tucker, 20, acknowledged that many of her classmates would rather spend Sunday afternoon at home watching NFL football than volunteering at a political rally in another state.
"For political nerds like us, this is the Super Bowl," Tucker said.
"We're in college, and this is a road trip," said Arielle Whitmer, 21. "It's nothing but a great big road trip."
The students arrived Saturday morning to help College Republicans however they could. They spent the day making phone calls and waving signs for local candidates.
They didn't find out until they got on the bus that they would be volunteering at a rally for President Bush, which many students said had rock-star status on their campus.
That status made some students happy they got the chance to travel to a state where the election was hotly contested.
"In Mississippi, you'd never get to do this," Wolfe said. "It's definitely not a swing state"
Sunday, the students collected tickets, passed out thousands of bottles of water and held up informational signs until their arms were sore.
They will leave today, and many said they wouldn't sleep until the polls were closed tomorrow.
But when President Bush thanked those who came from "far away" during his speech, the students said they'd gotten the only reward they needed.
"I love you, Dubya," Wolfe screamed in response. "Yeah, Mississippi!"

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