Thursday, April 26, 2012

My mom

In April 2009, my mom was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Throughout the next two-plus years, I took her to many of her doctor appointments. After I started helping out on the official campaign -- on the Twitter and Facebook accounts, etc. -- she would brag to her oncologist and others about it.

When I returned from my first trip to the campaign, she got a huge kick out of the stories -- I am usually fairly quiet, but you couldn't shut me up for a few days, as I was always remembering some detail I had forgotten earlier -- and the pictures of the trip.

My next trip to Iowa was going to be for the Ames Straw Poll, but about a week before, my mom regressed and had to be into hospice. I didn't really want to tell anyone on the campaign -- for various reasons -- what was happening, but I had to tell Adam Waldeck that I wouldn't be able to make it to Iowa. His response -- something like "I knew're joining Perry's campaign -- was able to make me laugh. (My response to him was "Nope...Bernie Sanders 2016.")

On the day of the Ames Debate, she was able to come home. So I dropped her off and hurried -- Twitter debate duty was in less than an hour! -- to get her favorite Mexican food. Thankfully, she was able to eat it with no problems, something that became more rare.

That night, as I mentioned in my last post, was really the night Newt 2012 started going up.

Unfortunately, my mom was slowly losing her two-and-a-half year battle and had to be placed back into the Hospice house at the beginning of September. I mentioned in my post yesterday that the day September 13 -- when Allen Olson endorsed the campaign -- really stuck out. The reason I still remember the date is that the next morning, at about 5:30, I got a call saying that my mom had had a rough night and, while she wouldn't be aware I was there, if I wanted to say goodbye I should hurry.

I got my shoes on and got in my car. As I was backing out of the driveway, though, I got another call. She had passed away.

I called family members after I got to the Hospice house. While waiting for my grandparents to arrive, the only thing I really remember was tweeting the link to Olson's Facebook post on why he was supporting Newt.

It was nice over the next few months to have the campaign to pour all my free time into. Like I said yesterday, it helped me get over the rough time. I had had a long time to come to grips with the inevitable, so it didn't hit me real hard when it finally happened. But I have no doubt the campaign helped me out.

Thank you to everyone who has read this blog and who I have communicated with.

My plan is to keep all the posts on here, but I will start posting on more general topics. I hope you will like it!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The thrill of a lifetime

It wasn't supposed to end like this.

I jumped on the Newt for President bandwagon back in August of 2006 -- and never stepped off it.

I started ramping up this election cycle in November and December of 2010, blogging about him and connecting with other Newt supporters whether here, Facebook, or Twitter.

My first contact with the campaign was soon after Newt's Meet the Press interview in which his comments about the Ryan Budget were taken out of context. I asked R.C. Hammond, the press secretary, how I could help out. He soon e-mailed me Adam Waldeck's number.

The next day, I called Waldeck, at the time the campaign's Coalitions Director and who, within months, would be dispatched to South Carolina to head up Newt 2012 there.

I've been asked how I came to be on the campaign by a few reporters -- and they are always shocked when I tell them I wanted to join at one of the lowest points. Nothing had changed in my mind -- Newt was the best candidate in 20 years and second best in 80 years -- and I was determined as hell to get him elected.

There were plenty of anxious times over the summer, of course -- and whether Adam knew it or not, he helped keep my spirits up by always having a nugget of good news.

Or, on the morning of June 10 -- the day after a lot of the staff quit -- he was able to somehow make me laugh by e-mailing something to the effect of, "I'm still here." Newt was going to have a conference call with tea party and 912 leaders across the country later that day, and Adam was letting me know about it.

My girlfriend was having to watch her nephew and his step-sister that day, so I ended up listening to the call -- still bewildered from the day before -- in one of the few quiet places in the house: the stairwell.

I've mentioned it plenty of times, but July 15 was my first trip to Iowa. I've linked to it many times -- and will again here and here -- because it will always be one of my favorite weekends. And no work-related weekend will ever top it.

At the end of the month, communications director Joe DeSantis e-mailed me asking if I would help out on the @Newt2012HQ Twitter account. I would try to answer any questions supporters or others might have as well as post content if no one else was around a computer or otherwise able to.

August 11 was the beginning of Newt's surge. It was the Ames Debate, and Newt was on fire -- taking down Chris Wallace especially. It also was the first debate that I helped out on the campaign's Twitter account, re-tweeting positive tweets that either I found or Dan Kotman and others found and sent to me. For each debate after, save one, that is how we did it.

The next memorable date I can remember is September 13. That was the day Allen Olson, the Columbia Tea Party leader, endorsed Newt. Awesome news! Later that month, Judson Phillips, a national tea party leader, followed suit.

The next couple of months featured more and more terrific debate performances.

Then came the peak of the surge. Newt soared to the top of the polls in Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida; he was closer than any candidate had been or would end up being in New Hampshire.

The Manchester Union-Leader endorsed him.

Walking into the Polk County (Iowa) GOP dinner on December 1st -- just a month before Iowans would caucus -- Newt was riding high. It may have been the high point of the campaign, with victory night in South Carolina the other possibility.

What I remember most about that weekend was when I first encountered Newt on the trip. He was sitting down being interviewed by Simon Conway, a big Iowa radio talk show host, and upon seeing me, Newt -- the front-runner for the GOP nomination while in a very important interview -- gives me a sly wink and doesn't miss a beat.

The time at the top was short-lived, of course. Romney's money men distorted and outright lied about Newt's record, leading to fourth place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire.

But on the back of two more outstanding debate performances and Sarah Palin's unofficial endorsement -- plus yeoman's work by Waldeck -- Newt won South Carolina on January 21st.

Eight days before Florida was to vote, Newt was up by a good margin. But once again, Romney pelted Newt was lying ads -- with assists from Santorum -- and Newt lost the state.

Who knows how things would have been different if Newt, instead of playing a calm figure in the first Florida debate and trying to look the frontrunner and more Presidential, had come out swinging. Chances are that the barrage of despicable ads would have been too much in any case.

I have plenty of awesome memories from the campaign -- and, as I'll write about tomorrow, it acted as a great therapist during some hard personal times -- and because of how great Newt would be as President, I will never regret all the work I put into it. It was a blast, and I'll never experience another campaign like it.

But it was, and will always be, the biggest disappointment in my life. Had Newt made it, this country could have been turned around so fast.

But now, the choice is Obama -- ugh -- or Romney, who, while better than Obama, is better in the same way that one broken leg is better than two.

(Update: Robert Costa of National Review, one of the best political journalists and someone who was very fair to Newt throughout the campaign, linked to my piece, tweeting "A Newt loyalist/activist reflects--a fun read"

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