Despite my own personal challenges regarding politics, the experience of attending Democratic Presidential Hopeful Kamala Harris’ town hall event on Sept. 20 was something that will stay with me for a long time.

Three peers and I hopped in a car, drove 21.6 miles to Waterloo and tried to prepare for the unexpected. I was serving as a representative for the “Trumpet,” while another classmate was representing Knight Vision News, the campus’ student-run television station.

We were granted press access, which was insanely nerve-wracking, as I am a student journalist with the opportunity to be up close and personal with a potential presidential candidate. The tension was building inside of me as soon as I stepped out of the car. With every step I was more nervous.

What if I tripped in front of Sen. Harris? What if I had the chance to ask a question and I choked? I had never covered a political event until this school year. I was out of my element. However, I liked the element.

As soon as we walked in the building, I was in awe. For those of you who have not been in Black’s Hall, it is absolutely gorgeous. There was soft yelloworange lighting, chandeliers and an indoor balcony. It was classy, it was intimate and it was an ideal place to host a presidential hopeful.

After checking in, I had the opportunity to take part in a press gaggle, which is where a candidate comes out ahead of the event to answer questions from reporters. It was surreal just being a part of it. It did not bother me that I was getting bumped into by other reporters.

It was the nature of the beast and something any journalist would have to get used to. Every reporter was fighting for the best spot from the beginning, until the second Harris walked in.

I had never been this close to someone so high-profile, and Harris was as consummate professional. Just being in the same vicinity was out of this world but being an arm’s length away was even more mind blowing. I got the chance to take a couple pictures, did not ask any questions, but came away ready for the town hall.

My classmates and I spread out as much as we could in the small space we had, but the majority of us were in the second row. Only a few men and women, likely of the boomer generation, stood between us and Kamala Harris. Thinking about it makes my head spin.

Harris came out after three other speakers, Henry Hicks, a field organizer, Vikki Brown, the Chair of the Black Hawk County Democrats and Quentin Hart, the Mayor of Waterloo. Each talked about the importance of both attending caucuses and voting prior to the introduction of Harris.

I was not fond of the senator’s opening remarks. While her point of fighting and being a voice is powerful, she spoke aggressively about how important it was to beat current President Donald J. Trump and take him out of the White House. While I do not disagree with her, I find it concerning that was how Harris opened the town hall, as I believe one’s platform should be based on personal merit, not focused on bringing down another.

However, as the event progressed, Harris proved my first reaction incorrect. One of my fears in the 2020 election is that many of the Democratic candidates started campaigning with the goal to not have Trump in office rather than running on merit. Harris did provide ideas for what she would do in the presidential office, which can be found at kamalaharris.org.

Overall, my first political event had its ups and downs, but Kamala Harris’ slogan describes the town hall experience. It was classy, it was intimate and it was “for the people.”



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