The Congressional Women’s Softball Game has a bit of a fanatic following this year beyond the dedicated members of Congress, female journalists of the Capitol press corps and their long-suffering families and friends.
Two passionate young women — Eve Zhurbinskiy, 17, and Lauren Waksman, 19 — will be traveling from states away to cheer on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., one of their political heros. The close friends will also be meeting in person for the first time.
Waksman, a freshman at Philadelphia’s Temple University, is originally from Bucks County, Pa. She is a pretty passionate Democrat. Her Twitter handle is @MovesLikeBiden. She live-tweeted, with much capitalization and references to tears, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s commencement speech at the University of Pennsylvania.
Waksman’s parents are both Republicans, though her father is the more passionate conservative of the couple. In fact, he took his daughter to the 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference.
It was during that trip, Waksman said, that father and daughter met, and were sort of disappointed by, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., after they ran into her at the Woodley Park Chipotle. Noem’s office says the congresswoman wasn’t at the fast-food restaurant. But Waksman remembers it differently.
“[My dad] was really excited about her speech,” Waksman told CQ Roll Call. She says her dad approached the congresswoman, but maybe Noem was having a bad day, Waksman posits. The lawmaker blew them off and the incident still comes up in @MovesLikeBiden tweets.
Waksman and Zhurbinskiy, a high-school senior from Scotch Plains, N.J., discovered each other on Tumblr during the inauguration. The young women connected over their deep knowledge of Congress, particularly their love of Democratic politicians.
“Quite a while ago, me and my friends decided to learn about Joe Biden for whatever reason,” Zhurbinskiy said. “And we were reading about his life. We learned about how he overcame so much and how he had lost his wife and his daughter. How he had gone on to achieve so much with the Violence Against Women Act, like how he got to the Obama administration and implemented the stimulus bill and oversaw the Iraq pullout and all of that and we were like: ‘Wow. What a great guy!’”
From there, she said, “It kind of snowballed into this whole thing. [Biden] overcame so much ... me and my friends were like, ‘Wow, if he could overcome all of that, like, we can really do whatever we want to do as well.’”
It was the Violence Against Women Act that turned the two women on to Gillibrand.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.