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Drake Students Play Their Part in the Post-Debate Spin Room

Posted: January 16, 2020 | By: Marie Nalan Tagged: Blog

Lights were flashing. Clicking cameras were everywhere. Reporters carrying notebooks or huge camera rigs were weaving through holes in the crowd. The bustling spin room was awaiting the arrival of the candidates right after the debate. It was almost midnight. In the middle of the chaos, a small group of people stood stoically, holding cardboard signs, waiting for instructions.

A handful of Drake University students were selected by the Democratic National Committee, or DNC, to work as sign-holders in the spin room after the debate held on Drake’s campus on Jan. 14.

They were tasked with staying with the candidates themselves or their representatives, so the room could see where the candidates were in the crowd. They were only told that they would be working the debate but did not have many details before the night started.

International relations major Kamryn Ryan had no idea that the unpaid job offer would get her into the spin room. “This is a cool gig,” she said laughing, standing under her towering sign displaying Joe Biden in huge letters.

She talked about her long day of work. She got to sit in on the debate and handled DNC check-in this morning for the debate. Now, she found herself in a crowd of national media figures in the middle of the night.

“I’ve heard Joe does not come to these things [spin rooms],” she said. “We’ll see.” Joe Biden did not make an appearance, so after half an hour Ryan had abandoned her sign and was doing other work around the room.

Actuarial Science major Nate Ruplinger, however, was kept busy. His candidate Elizabeth Warren did not make an appearance in the spin room, but former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro made the rounds on her behalf after the debate. Ruplinger fought through the crowds of struggling reporters to stay near Castro, which looked pretty impressive.

“We did ticketing this morning, we got to sit in on the actual debate, and now we’re here,” he told me before Castro arrived. “They didn’t really tell us what we were going to be doing, but it’s awesome to be here.”

The signs looked pretty sturdy. I asked if I could hold it and it was pretty heavy.

The spin room slowly emptied as the night went on, and finally closed its doors at 1 a.m. Only Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer, and Warren’s surrogate Castro ended up making an appearance. The Drake students went home after a long day.

Ruplinger probably slept especially hard after holding that sign all night. “I’ll skip the gym tomorrow,” he chuckled.