Behind the speeches and colorful banners of the uniquely American spectacle that is the political convention, a smoke filled room.
There, according to legend, men in suits and ties with shiny gold clips glad hand, strategize, sip bourbon, and smoke cigars.
American River College student Alexander Wrinkle, president of the ARC College Republicans club, got a taste of this world – albeit outdoors and without bourbon – when he got to smoke a cigar with Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus at the California Republican Party Convention in Burlingame, near San Francisco on March 14-16.
Wrinkle, who inhaled his cigar smoke, admitted to being “loopy” when he met Priebus.
“I was smoking a cigar and was like ‘whoa this is a little strong,’” Wrinkle said. “That was an odd first impression.”
Wrinkle visited several convention related events with five students from ARC including Associated Student Body Director of Finance Jorge Riley and Students For Life President Katheryn White.
The Associated Student Body Student Senate was unable to give the College Republicans the $900 they asked for to help cover convention related expenses, meaning none of them were able to go to the convention floor and have a meal with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as they had hoped.
With no money coming from the Student Senate, Wrinkle and Riley decided to spend their own money.
“Because we didn’t get the bill, I spent personal money to pay for the girls’ rooms and for most of the food to feed everybody. It pretty much just left me broke,” Riley said, adding he spent “something like $700.”
Nevertheless, the students were able to attend convention related events and volunteer for, meet, and talk with candidates for office from around the state.
“We helped put up signs for (gubernatorial candidate) Tim Donnelly and we passed out baby footprints against abortion,” Wrinkle said. “Nine weeks is when most abortions happen so we had footprints about that size.”
ARC students passed around a petition asking attendees of the convention if they would support a measure to ban the public funding of abortions and got a mostly positive response.
“It was an experiment to see how many people we could get to sign for no funding – federal, state, local – for abortions,” Wrinkle said.
“The actual petition initiative signature costs quite a bit of money and its like polling.”
“It was very awesome. If we got the funding we would have brought more people with us and done more stuff,” he added.