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Student shares experience with politics in Iowa

Most people have only seen Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann in the media — on CNN, C-SPAN and maybe even Saturday Night Live. But sophomore Alex Latcham has gotten to know each of them in a professional setting.

The political science major worked extensively for both Palin and Bachmann during the presidential campaign and especially the 99 County Tour, in which Bachmann traveled to every Iowa county in only 10 and a half days, Latcham said.

“The biggest thing was definitely the 99 County Tour,” said Latcham. “It was crazy. It was 11 days of 18-hour days with 10 events a day. We’d leapfrog ahead to set up the event. She would attend, we’d stay for 45 minutes, then leave (for the next event).”

To Latcham, networking is important, and that is exactly how he was led to Palin and Bachmann. A friend of Latcham’s, who had managed Palin’s 2008 campaign, was able to connect Latcham to Palin.

While Latcham was working on behalf of Drake to bring candidates to speak on campus, Bachmann’s Iowa campaign manager, Eric Woolson, asked if he’d join the Iowa College Republicans as the director of outreach. Latcham happily obliged, and his duties were quite beneficial in terms of experience.

“It’s doing anything that needs to be done to keep the campaign moving forward,” he said. “Coordinating media, getting lunch, driving the candidates — basically anything. You have to have really good people skills.”

Latcham also escorted the congresswomen to debates, set up press releases, and even had to deal with Occupy protestors. The skills that he developed as a result of his involvement are ones he will carry with him into his career.

“It’s formed me into a more confident, competent individual,” Latcham said. “You learn how to deal with a variety of individuals, and I really discovered my passion. I want to get on another campaign.”

Latcham is currently trying to form a bipartisan political club on campus for students fascinated by the American political system and campaigns.

“We’ve got a lot of enthusiasm and interest following the debates,” said Latcham. “(The club) would facilitate networking, because really, that’s the game of politics. It’s the networking.”

When Latcham gets out into his field, he hopes to work as a consultant for politicians and the campaigns.

“I love politics. I can’t pinpoint it exactly, but it really interests me,” he said. “I love the actual ground game of politics in which you see the (events) actually taking place. It really is history in the making, and you get to witness that.”

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