The battle for the White House is long and hard fought. It takes a cadre of volunteers and campaign workers laboring almost around the clock to win the presidency.
Many of them, including those with Penn State ties, leave their lives and homes behind in an effort to elect the next president.
Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe said he was involved with then-senator Barack Obama’s campaign from June 2007 to November 2008.
“In June, I packed up my Honda Accord and drove all the way from State College to Las Vegas to intern for the Obama campaign,” Pipe said.
At the time, Obama was down in the polls — so Pipe was expecting to only stay for the summer and pack up for Penn State in September to finish his education, he said.
After the campaign hired Pipe and he took a deferment, he said he still thought he’d only work for the rest of the year before coming back to school. Instead, Obama began to gain momentum when he won the Iowa Caucus, and Pipe decided to keep working.
Throughout the campaign, Pipe said he stayed in eight states and held more than a half dozen jobs within the campaign. No matter where he worked, there was one constant, Pipe said.
“Wherever I went, I saw the same enthusiasm and excitement for Barack Obama,” Pipe said. “It was a life-changing experience.”
Warren Kraus, Class of 2012, said he’s trying to drum up support for Mitt Romney in Ann Arbor, Mich., where he is a College Republican National Committee field representative. Kraus said he recruits and organizes volunteers on college campuses.
Kraus, a former officer of the Penn State College Republicans, said it’s important to get Romney elected president, so he was willing to pick up and move.
Working on a campaign leaves little time for anything else, Kraus said.
“It’s busy working on a campaign,” Kraus said. “It’s not like you have a lot of free time. You’re mainly doing campaign work, but it’s fun to explore a different area of the country.”
Pipe said he never really felt like he was living somewhere, because he spent 16 hours at the office each day. Campaign workers practically live at the office and go to a supporter’s house to crash on the couch or a spare bed, Pipe said.
Obama’s willingness to talk with people who disagreed with him along the campaign trail stood out to him, Pipe said. Pipe said he believed in what Obama was saying and felt he could really make a difference in Washington.
That’s what motivated him to wake up at 8 a.m. and stay at the office until midnight, he said.
“Eat, sleep, organize. That was the mantra,” Pipe said.
This election cycle, Zach Hamadyk, a fellow with the Obama campaign, left his home in Rockaway, N.J., to come to State College.
Hamadyk, 29, said he worked at a financial services law firm before he was laid off. He volunteered with the campaign before he was hired, he said.
Hamadyk said he was excited to move to Pennsylvania at the end of August.
“It was a swing state, so I knew they needed a lot of help,” Hamadyk said.
After Election Day, the workers will pursue their other life plans. Pipe returned to Penn State to finish his education. Kraus said he will leave for Army basic training a week and a half after Election Day, and Hamadyk said he’s going back to school or into AmeriCorps.
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