Campaign Staff Reflect on the Presidential Inauguration

The video was titled “It begins with us,” and it officially launched President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign back in April 2011. The President wanted everyone to know that the campaign wasn’t just about him, it was about all of us. To win a second term, he needed the help of every one of his supporters.

Several of BSD staff answered the President’s call by moving to Chicago and joining the campaign. Veterans of the 2008 campaign dove in head-first even though they knew all too well about the grueling hours, anxiety-ridden days, and endless take-out dinners. Newcomers to the campaign uprooted their lives not knowing what to expect. Several were in Chicago for a few months, some for over a year and a half, but all with the same commitment to get the President re-elected.

Yesterday, these driven individuals watched as the President was sworn in on the steps of the Capitol – a grand finale to the campaign and a great beginning to the President’s second term. And tonight, they’re loosening up their ties and having some well-deserved fun at the staff ball.

To get an idea of what these BSDers were feeling during these inaugural festivities, we asked some of them for their thoughts and stories from their campaign days:

After the campaign in 2008, I thought I would be done with presidential campaigns. 2008 was exhausting. Fast forward to spring of 2011, we were tasked with creating the launch video for the ‘12 campaign. I was excited to kick it off with the right tone and bring everything back home to the grassroots folks who really started the movement in ‘07. We dug for weeks looking for supporters who joined us early, so we could check back in with them to see where their lives were at. In about 9 days we visited 8 states and conducted 9 interviews. The experience really struck me. Keep in mind – we were in the very early stages of the recovery. Democrats were pretty low at the time. Some families we talked to were really struggling.

It was just one of the moments where you have to look yourself in the mirror and ask, “Can you really stand by at a time like this and not help?” I had to be involved. I wouldn’t be able to stand on the sidelines. So, you buck up, say goodbye to your girlfriend and all your friends and move to Chicago. In the end you’re part of something bigger than yourself. It was worth every second.
– Stephen Muller, Director of Video

Seeing the inauguration was the culmination of so much hard work. I stood in a crowd with supporters who had driven in from Ohio, Indiana, Kansas City, and the energy was incredible. History in the making, and we were all part of it.
– Agnes Mazur, Outbound Writer

I attended my first inauguration in 2001, while I was in college. I was just back from a year abroad, and I had watched the post-election meltdown unfold from afar – shocked and disturbed by the transparently political Supreme Court decision and the unforgivable failure of our election system to competently administer the process that Americans have fought and died to protect. I walked across the National Mall that rainy morning sort of bewildered by it all. When elections aren’t close it’s easy to ignore the quality of the electoral system and the voting process, or more broadly to lose sight of the impact your own participation can have on the outcome. That first inauguration experience for me clarifies two questions that animate my political life: Is the process fair? Have I done enough?
– Joe Rospars, Chief Digital Strategist

Even though it was only three months, the work I did on the campaign was the most important thing I’ve ever done. Being able to watch President Obama take the oath of office a second time, knowing that I helped make that happen, was one of the proudest moments of my life — and one I’m sure I’ll never forget.
– Steve Jacobs, Senior Outbound Writer

I was part of the team that told the story of Mitt Romney’s business record and how that record exposed the kind of president he would have been. One of the workers affected by Romney’s record was Randy Johnson. He works for a labor union now. His story and his work for the President was an inspiration to me throughout the campaign. Getting a chance to exchange emails with him after the results came in is something I’ll have for a long time.
– Matthew McGregor, Digital Rapid Response Director

The best day on the campaign was Nov 7, 2012. The day after e-day. Everyone slowly but surely came into the office that morning mentally and physically exhausted. Most of us hadn’t slept in what seemed like weeks, and had just spent the night celebrating into the early morning hours. All we could say was, “We did it – we won!” What could be better? A personal speech, hug and thank you from the President, maybe? When he walked in the room, silence fell. He thanked us for our hard work, and our belief in him and to never giving up. Still gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. You could tell he was so proud of us, and so grateful of our hard work. He looked at us with sincerity in his eyes and passion in his voice. November 7th will always be the day that I got to hug the President of the United States, and today is the day we get to continue the legacy of hope, change and progress.
– Lauren Parks, Director of Digital Operations

For me, the Inauguration was when it finally sunk in that we re-elected a President whose name is Barack Hussein Obama, who in early 2007 few people thought would stand a chance, and who has single-handedly inspired our generation to participate in the political process and change the course of history.
– Gillea Allison, Digital Operation Vote Lead

My only inauguration experience was in 2009. Prior to my work as Deputy Director of Video for the 2008 campaign, I had lived and worked completely outside of political circles. Politics and power had always seemed like something that existed elsewhere – a world that was so far out of my sphere of influence that I assumed myself to be irrelevant. So the idea of going to an inauguration had never even occurred to me.

Just two months after the election, the inauguration weekend was a blur of reunions – with the folks from headquarters; with battleground state colleagues I knew intimately via email and IM but had never actually met; and those who would soon become part of my new post-campaign BSD family.

Looking back, this was a big moment for me. After watching countless primary returns from the campaign HQ, following debates and combing through speeches for the right clip or sound bite for the videos. It was great to experience the first moments of the Obama presidency as a citizen rather than as a campaign employee.
— Chris Royalty, Deputy Director of Video ‘08

Below a few BSD staff enjoying the festivities with friends and family.