Lobbyist Gains Backstage Perspective on Convention by Doing Grunt Work
Many of the lobbyists attending the Republican National Convention won’t make it to the arena where the event is taking place. They’re too busy hosting receptions or charity golf tournaments or ferrying clients around the city in luxury.
Not Katie Beck, a senior associate with the Podesta Group, who is a volunteer at the GOP gathering.
Beck is spending hours behind the scenes, including backstage at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, doing everything from greeting VIPs such as governors and Members of Congress to helping them find the remote control to change the TV channel in their viewing lounge.
She has also helped guide the governors to the Republican Governors Association suites or pretty much anywhere they might need to go.
“Last night, a governor was darting in because they were late for a TV hit, so they needed to know the fastest way to get to the correct media suite,” Beck explained. “We’re there to greet them and let them know how we can help if they need anything. Sometimes it’s as simple as just being able to tell them where the nearest power outlet is to charge their BlackBerry.”
Beck is with the external affairs team and said that although many of her fellow volunteers are familiar faces from D.C., she has met folks from all over the country, including Texas and California.
On Wednesday night, Beck said she was helping backstage when vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) arrived. Ryan, she recalled, “received applause” from the volunteer brigade. She was also on hand as former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made her way to the green room before addressing the convention.
Beck said she only takes photos when she’s not on duty. “I like to keep it professional, so I tend to save the photos for the parties,” she said.
As for the volunteer experience, Beck said she feels a sense of community and camaraderie. “You’re there in a professional capacity, but just as a proud Republican and a young Republican, it’s exciting to be a part of the action,” she said.
Beck also volunteered four years ago at the GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn.
Will she be back again in four years?
“You leave so exhausted, you can’t imagine doing it again,” she said. “But then as the days creep near, you get that feeling of wanting to be a part of it again. I wouldn’t be surprised if I tried to do it again.
“It’s exhausting, but I wouldn’t trade a minute of it,” she added.
Tonight, when GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney takes center stage, Beck is hoping to once again be backstage. “I’m awaiting my duties,” she said, uncertain of what her role will be. “We have to be kind of nimble. It’s organized chaos.”