Cate Edwards '04 on the campaign trail. (Photo courtesy Cate Edwards '04)
Alumni Connections: On the campaign trail Working
to elect John Edwards
The hallways are bursting with energy, and status and gossip can
be like currency. At times you wonder how work gets done in all
the chaos. Pizza and caffeine certainly help.
A Princeton dorm? No, the headquarters of John Edwards’
presidential campaign, where four Princetonians have been working
over the last year to put Edwards in the White House.
For Ryan McCabe ’07, Pauly Rodney ’00, Michael Signer
’95, and Dominic Williams ’05, working at the campaign’s
headquarters in Chapel Hill, N.C., is not entirely unlike college.
The candidate’s daughter, Cate Edwards ’04, also works
on the campaign, traveling on weekends from Boston, where she’s
in law school at Harvard.
“There’s a rambunctious quality, and it’s very
collegial,” says Signer, a Washington attorney who’s
on leave to advise the candidate on foreign policy. “When
I’m writing a speech, it’s not dissimilar to being stuck
in the carrels” of Firestone Library, he says.
According to Princeton’s TigerNet alumni directory, the
only other campaign with more Tigers toiling for it might be Barack
Obama’s. Five graduate school alumni and two undergrad alums
list the Obama campaign as their employer; they’re scattered
around the country. And the candidate’s wife, Michelle, graduated
in 1985. No alumni list Hillary Clinton’s campaign as their
employer, and of the leading Republican candidates only Mitt Romney
has one undergraduate alumnus associated with his campaign in Boston.
In the Edwards camp, Cate Edwards had something to do with the
infusion of orange and black in a college town known more for Carolina
blue. The alumni working to elect her father mostly knew her, or
knew friends of hers, before they signed on.
As the Democratic primaries approached — and this article
went to press —Signer was leaving headquarters to lend a hand
in Iowa. Williams, a philosophy major who taught at a Manhattan
prep school, was tracking and fact-checking media coverage. McCabe,
who started as an intern for the advance team soon after graduation,
shifted from the compliance department to do field work in Nevada,
where he was canvassing and mobilizing support before Nevada’s
Jan. 19 caucus.
Rodney, who worked for Edwards’ 2004 campaign and in community
relations for the National Basketball Association, supervises volunteers
and interns nationwide. Two Princeton undergraduates interned with
the campaign over the summer, and other alumni are part of the volunteer
network. When Whitman College opened in the fall, alumni crowded
around a computer at campaign headquarters to look at photos.
“It’s comforting that no matter how difficult things
get,” says Rodney, “you can always talk about something
By Massie Ritsch ’98
Massie Ritsch ’98 is the communications director for
the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group in Washington
that tracks the money financing the 2008 election.