The Zealot

Don't Call Robert R. Porter Apathetic - He Lives and Breathes His Cause

A large 'George W. Bush For President' sign dominates the wall above the Claverly Hall fireplace. A roll of blue Bush stickers is strewn on the floor, and a handful of Bush posters lean against the wall.

Robert R. Porter '02, the man spearheading the Bush effort on campus, tied the mammoth sign to the roof of his friend's car to bring it back from a New Hampshire rally to campus.

He doesn't just admire the Republican presidential candidate--he has set up a shrine.

While most students were catching up on lost sleep and missed television programs during their breaks, Porter was slaving away for Bush's campaign in New Hampshire.


Porter gave up a chance to go to London with his sister in order to call supporters, wave signs on street corners and help set up events.

"It's grunt work, but it's fun," Porter relates. "Seeing the effectiveness, talking to people about the issues--that's the part I enjoy. Going canvassing can actually make a difference."

The joint government and philosophy concentrator believes in his candidate's message of "compassionate conservatism."

"He's ushering in an era of personal responsibility. That resonates with me," Porter says.

And he's just as excited by the current flurry of political activity in the states with early primaries.

"Everything right now is going on in Iowa and New Hampshire," Porter says. "All of the Washington big wigs and the media--they're all up there."

But Porter is used to such political hype now, after 21 years as a certified political junkie. Growing up in Washington, D.C., Porter lived a political life, especially because his father, Roger B. Porter, IBM professor of business and government at the JFK School of Government, served as a top economic advisor to the Ford, Reagan and Bush administrations.

The Porters regularly debated politics at the dinner table.

"When Rob was growing up he consistently showed an interest in public policy as well as in politics," Porter the father wrote in an e-mail message. "He has always loved to discuss a wide variety of policy issues and to debate them vigorously. He also enjoyed political campaigns serving as a volunteer in several national and congressional races."

Because his father has always concentrated on public policy rather than the political horse race, Robert Porter says he has been able to retain his idealism.

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