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Co-​​op, alumnus team up

It’s a weekday after­noon soon after Super Tuesday and Ben Adams and Will Ritter are working in a non­de­script office building in Boston’s North End. They’re looking at a photo recently posted online that shows Pres­i­dent Obama standing in a con­struc­tion site for a new domestic pipeline project.

Even without reading a news story or hearing a sound bite from Obama, it’s clear that the com­mander in chief is talking about his energy policy. Ritter and Adams have been charged with staging an event the very next day at which their boss, former Mass­a­chu­setts gov­ernor and cur­rent Repub­lican pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Mitt Romney, will out­line his own energy agenda.

“We’re looking at what he’s doing,” said Ritter, pointing at Obama’s image on the screen, “and we’re trying to make our stuff match that pres­i­den­tial level.”

Ritter, who grad­u­ated from North­eastern in 2006 with a double major in polit­ical sci­ence and com­mu­ni­ca­tion studies, directs the campaign’s advance team, which orga­nizes polit­ical events — often on very tight dead­lines. Adams, a sopho­more polit­ical sci­ence major, is on his first co-​​op but not his first cam­paign trail.

As a high-​​school stu­dent growing up in Charleston, W.Va., Adams vol­un­teered to sup­port 2008 Repub­lican pres­i­den­tial nom­inee John McCain. For Romney, he plans high-​​profile events and occa­sion­ally travels with the can­di­date to states throughout New England.

On the stump, the pace is unre­lenting and the stakes are high. Every event draws the scrutiny of hun­dreds — some­times thou­sands — of atten­dees, and dozens of jour­nal­ists from across the nation.

“The biggest thing is get­ting the job done and real­izing that nothing cannot not happen,” Adams said, adding that he plans to stay on the cam­paign once he returns to class this July. “You’re making the impos­sible — or, at least, the very dif­fi­cult — happen every day.”

Ritter says quick action is crit­ical to plan­ning suc­cessful events, many of which take place con­cur­rently in sev­eral states. Even the smallest gaffe or mis­step, he says, could res­onate far longer than any stump speech.

“We have two or three live press events a day,” Ritter said. “That’s like pro­ducing two or three live TV shows every day, with no margin to get any­thing wrong.

“These little things might seem mean­ing­less, but these events don’t just put them­selves on,” he added. “It takes a lot of hard work, but you have to make it look effortless.”

– by Matt Collette

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