There’s no sugar coating it: Once the election results started to solidify, I somehow found myself alone in my apartment eating my feelings in bin candy. After I devoted over a year to the Romney campaign, the defeat left me feeling dumped. And when I’m dumped, I apparently eat chocolate.
While Mitt and I differed on many policy issues, I would still call myself a passionate supporter. Elections are about picking your most important issues, and he certainly had mine at heart. I admired Romney’s confidence, but I admired his resume most of all. The man knows more than most of us ever will about how to balance a budget, to make health care work, to be pragmatic. Say what you want about his political views, but there is no doubt that Mitt is an honorable American.
Working for the campaign was probably one of the greatest experiences I will have in college. It wasn’t always fun, but it could never be replicated. One day when I was canvassing, a rather crazed barefoot woman chased me down the street. She grabbed me and screamed that, as a woman, I had no right to vote for a man who wanted to “regulate her vagina.” That was my first and last experience knocking on doors in Durham.
But the other people I met were all incredible in their own way as well. A New Yorker interning for a local Republican office below the Mason-Dixon Line, I expected my days to be filled with caricatures of the old South—but instead I met so many wonderful individuals who touched my heart. I met men and women who were so dedicated to realizing their dreams for our country that they would do anything and everything possible in order to make a difference.
I will never forget an elderly woman I met, also named Lia, whose eyesight was so bad that she could not read the buttons on the computer used to call volunteers from our local campaign office. I sat with her until she memorized all of the button sequences she needed to input voter data to the computer. It took a very long time, and I honestly don’t think I would have had the patience or willpower to do what she did.
When Election Day rolled around, I thought it would be close, but my gut said Romney couldn’t pull it off. I tried to pretend I was feeling lucky, that my man was going to win big. But I was blindsided by the outcome in Florida. If you asked me on Nov. 5, I would have told you Romney was fighting for Virginia and Ohio in this election. Apparently that was not the case.
That day, the atmosphere in the Durham campaign office was so positive that I felt guilty having doubted my candidate prior to starting my shift. By the end of my workday, I thought we had a winner on our side. The volunteers’ winning attitude was infectious, and I remembered why I caught Romney fever in the first place. After four years of being promised hope, we all finally found someone who could deliver it. The election did not turn out how I had hoped, but I am proud to have been part of the effort to win North Carolina. Duke Students for Romney were not as noticeably vocal on campus as our Democratic counterparts, but we did our part. We organized voter registration drives and volunteer efforts—we knocked on doors and made calls. It may not have won us the White House, but it won us our state. And I am damn proud.
I found myself on a futon writing this piece, my eyes welling with tears. I promised myself not to cry over boys, but it is not easy to work toward a goal for so long and feel the rug ripped out from under you.
When you go through a breakup, your friends say that everything turns out for the best. And I know that this will... somehow. We have four more years with Obama, and I am going to start looking for the bright side.
Lia Cromwell was an intern at Mitt Romney for President 2012. She was also the Durham County chair for the Romney campaign from October 2011 to August 2012.