Photo (Caption Below)The Johnson Center on the night of the Virginia Primary.

Photo (Caption Below)
Sen. John Edwards with Broadside editor John Marcario.

Photos by Evan Cantwell


The Mason Spirit: The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of George Mason University

Positively Patriotic

Student newspaper brings candidates to campus

On TV, everything looked great—the banners, the flags, the crowds of cheering supporters, Democratic presidential candidates Sen. John Edwards and Sen. John Kerry smiling and waving. It all looked so easy. But in fact, tremendous planning, preparation, and teamwork went into the successful political events held at Mason in February.

It all started with an initiative by the Broadside student newspaper staff. Early in 2004, editor in chief John Marcario, BA Communication '04, and faculty advisor Kathryn Mangus discussed inviting presidential candidates to Mason. “We wanted to give students a firsthand look at the candidates,” says Marcario. “We thought the candidates would be interested in coming here because Mason is in such a great location.”

“We heard that Kerry might want to come to watch primary returns,” says Barbara Lubar, MA Communication '03, Mason's director of events management. “Then the governor said he was coming, and it just kept getting bigger and bigger.”

Both events were heavily attended, and the crowds were large and enthusiastic. “I know that events of this magnitude and importance require the extraordinary effort of many,” says President Alan Merten. “But it is this kind of opportunity and our ability to take advantage of it that make George Mason what it is.”

“I think it was great for students,” says Marcario. “Students are still talking about it. I think they felt like they were part of history, and they were proud of George Mason.”

The events also garnered significant media attention for the university. Media Relations staffer Jeremy Lasich, BA Communication '98, reports that each rally was covered by more than 60 national and international outlets, including USA Today, the New York Times, CNN, Fox News, and C-SPAN.

Marcario reports positive feedback from both campaigns. “The Edwards people said they were overwhelmed with the response,” he says, “and the Kerry people said that the Johnson Center was a better space than any other they could have imagined.”

Riding high on the success of the rallies, Marcario and Broadside are ready to do it again and have already extended an invitation to the Bush—Cheney campaign.