Junior volunteers to support Obama campaign

April 3, 2008 — by Rahul Thakker

On Jan. 16, while most students were struggling through their first and second period finals, junior Corey Rateau was on the road, driving to Reno. No, he wasn’t going skiing or enjoying some underage gambling. He was on his way to the headquarters of Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign for the Nevada caucuses.

“We spent a lot of time doing voter outreach,” said Rateau. “We were assigned a neighborhood in Nevada, and our job was to go around and identify voters who would be interested in [Obama]. Then, on the Saturday of the caucuses, we got up at about five in the morning and put up door hangers reminding people to go out and [vote] that day.”

Since the middle of last summer, Rateau has been a part of Students for Barack Obama, an official branch of the senator’s presidential campaign. Even though he will not be able to vote in the upcoming presidential election, Rateau has spent dozens of hours helping out in any way that he can.

“Students for Barack Obama is run just like Obama for America, [which] is his actual campaign, but it is all student-run,” said Rateau. “It is set up in all states and there is quite a bit of support for it. It’s volunteer-run so it’s very accessible and anybody who is interested in the campaign can help out.”

Rateau can often be found at the Students for Barack Obama in Palo Alto, where he does a lot of “online networking—making sure people are connected, keeping in touch and making sure everything is running smoothly.”

According to Rateau, the primary season is especially busy for campaign volunteers. They have various jobs to do, but the majority of their time is spent collecting pledges and calling other students, either to recruit them for the campaign or to get them interested in the elections.

“We try to get the word out there, and now that California is coming up, we’re focusing on making sure people, especially from the high schools, go out and vote on Super Tuesday,” he said.

Rateau first became interested in Obama’s campaign after he heard him give a speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and his respect for the senator has only grown through working for him.

“He’s a great speaker and he really gets the crowd fired up,” said Rateau. “There’s a certain level of emotion that you get from him that isn’t as apparent in other candidates, and whenever you listen to him speak—even if it’s just a speech on TV— there’s a connection that’s there. I think that connection is what drives people. He’s just so inspirational that I really do believe [him] when he speaks of change.”

Rateau thinks that, up to this point, this year’s primary elections have been very successful—not just for Obama supporters, but for the entire nation.
“Like you saw, there was such great turnout in Iowa and in New Hampshire, and I think everybody is realizing that this is a really important election,” he said. “It’s
great to see that they’re coming out and supporting whichever candidate.”

Rateau said that being involved in a presidential campaign has made him more knowledgeable about politics than ever before and that he seriously considering it as a career.

“One of the things that fuels this is that I have a really intense passion for politics,” said Rateau. “I think it’s a great way to have an effect on people’s lives and be able to change things. It’s definitely something that I see myself going into.”

1 view this week