The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Mustangs get involved with McCain’s campaign

Most college students finish their summer internships in August. One SMU senior, Payton Keith, is still working for free. “I knew I wanted to be in D.C. for at least the summer,” said Keith, a political science and history double-major at SMU.

Keith has been interning at Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign headquarters since May. And he’s not coming back to Dallas until after Nov. 4.

Neither is Mark Davidovich, also an SMU senior and double-major in political science and history.

“They asked if I would do it for duration for campaign and I said why not? The opportunity only comes every four years, so you might as well do it while you are young,” explained Keith.

So days after exams last spring, Keith packed up his truck and headed for the Hill. May 16 was his first day on the job-and he hasn’t looked back since. Or stopped working. Davidovich joined Keith a few weeks later.

“It was a transition. In college you have classes sporadically throughout the day,” Keith reflected. “I had to adjust.”

“Despite the intensity of campaign figures’ jobs and lack of privacy, many of these leaders make a point of reaching out to younger members of the campaign,” explained Davidovich.

He drove to Pennsylvania and back with Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback. Davidovich even “enjoyed a delicious Arby’s roast beef sandwich with a US Senator,” he said. (The senator also admitted to Davidovich that Arby’s is one of his favorite fast-food spots.)

Both Keith and Davidovich are challenged intellectually, while receiving one-on-one time with leaders within the campaign. They mingled with Gov. Sarah Palin a few weeks ago. Davidovich talks with constituents daily and Keith is helping to intensely research for the upcoming debates.

Keith and Davidovich are among the one hundred interns who gave up a semester of school for the unpaid grind of working as a McCain campaign intern. The number has dwindled from the hundreds of interns headquarters’ had this summer.

Keith works 12-hour days, five days a week. On weekends he gets to “sleep in.” “I can get in [to work] around 10 a.m. Saturdays,” Keith explained. “The job is basically seven days a week,” Keith added.

They sit at a desk everyday like a “grown-up,” but still live like college kids. The two slept on their floor for weeks until beds were delivered (one of the few pieces of furniture in their makeshift apartment outside of a mini-couch from Ikea.) Keith and Davidovich’s parents still foot the bill.

“I find the legislative process fascinating and the Capitol Building is spectacular, along with the amazing story of its creation,” said senior Jeff Ordner, a political science major with an elementary education minor at SMU. Ordner, also Student Senate Chief of Staff, interned for Georgia Congressman Saxby Chambliss (R), in Washington this summer.

During the summer months, Capitol Hill was crawling with college co-eds. Adam’s Morgan and many Georgetown pubs were packed with college interns-many of whom were SMU students. The summer was a bit more carefree.

“I don’t go out at all now,” Keith said. He admits there are virtually no more nights out in Georgetown.

“I come home from work. Then I order food in every night. And then I go to bed,” Keith said. With the debates just days away and the election nearing, they can feel their workload getting heavier and the anticipation in headquarters building.

“It was amazing to see how consumed everyone was by the news in the hours before the VP announcement,” Davidovich recalled.

“When Gov. Palin was announced everyone was excited and energized…ready to work and ready to elect a leader,” Keith said. Back home in Dallas, fellow Mustangs feel a different exuberance-one involving tailgates and fraternity theme parties.

Initially, Ordner thought, “‘I could never give up a semester at SMU, especially during football season.’ The more I thought about it, I changed my mind,” Ordner concluded.

“I’m kind of torn. I miss school but I’m liking this too.” What does he miss most? “Definitely my buddies…it’s tough not being with your pals, going to SMU football games and sitting on the Boulevard,” Keith admitted.

Davidovich agreed. “I wish I could be on campus for the inauguration of the Jones era,” he said.

So what’s in it for Keith and Davidovich? A possible job if McCain is elected. “It would be a real honor to go from working on campaign…to completing my degree at SMU to return to D.C. and work in the White House,” said Keith. The McCain White House, that is.

“Washington is an amazing place for young adults, along with the possibility to work in the administration, I think Payton and Mark made the right decision,” Ordner said. So do they.

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