Five Mercer students appeared in a segment of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program last month and fielded questions from host Joe Scarborough about the 2008 presidential campaign. The students were in South Carolina as part of their political science class, “Road to the White House,” led by Mercer professors Greg Domin and Chris Grant. The trip is allowing the college students to get a firsthand look at the hotly contested Republican presidential primary in South Carolina and gave them a behind-the-scenes look at the political process of this year’s presidential election.
MSNBC TV host Joe Scarborough, center, pauses for a photo with Mercer students on the set of "Morning Joe." The students are, left to right, Timothy Head, Akeem Anderson, Charles Crain and Daniel Groce.
“It makes the subject so much more alive for the students,” Grant said, adding that the Republican primary was chosen because of its competitiveness and intensity and not for political reasons. “You can talk about the theories of presidential elections for hours and hours, but when you actually get students in the front lines of a campaign so they can see firsthand how it works, it has much more of an impact.”
The five students that made it onto Scarborough’s show were Akeem Anderson, Charles Crain, Timothy Head, Daniel Groce and Jeff Scott. However, they weren’t the only ones garnering national media attention during the class’s five-day hands-on experience. All 16 class members provided the backdrop for a rally on Jan. 16 for Sen. John McCain, sharing the stage with the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, which garnered national television coverage.
Mercer student Timothy Head summed up his appearance on MSNBC this way: “It’s the first time I’ve been excited at 5 a.m. in a long time.”
“I think that’s something we’d all agree on,” chimed in Anderson.
Throughout the weeklong trip, students traveled to various campaign rallies and town hall meetings of each of the Republican candidates, including McCain, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Gov. Mitt Romney, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, and former Sen. Fred Thompson. Then, as part of a class assignment, students spent Jan. 18 working as volunteers in the campaign offices of the candidates they supported or, in one case, as an intern with the NBC affiliate in Columbia.
On primary day, Saturday Jan. 19, the students split into two groups: one attended Huckabee’s post-primary party and the other visited McCain’s rally. The group reconvened for an evening rally for Democrat candidate John Edwards. The students returned on on Sunday, Jan. 20, after spending five hard days on the campaign trail leading up to the Jan. 18 primary.
Other Mercer class members on the South Carolina trip are William Shanahan, Jessica Lerer, Frank Arden, Julia Chenault, Tyler Smith, Suzanne Bottorff, Johnny Elder, Matt Palmer, Micheal Jamison, Carly Souther and Whitney Harden.