56° Good Evening
56° Good Evening
Long Island

Seeing politics up close, three LI students go to the conventions

Jeremy Wiss of Massapequa Park, left, with Rep.

Jeremy Wiss of Massapequa Park, left, with Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Michael Raimondo of Shoreham at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last week. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

When he began his freshman year of college last year, Joe Iasso of Port Jefferson never imagined he could be rubbing elbows this week with some of his political heroes.

But on Monday, the Quinnipiac University political science student will be in Philadelphia when the Democratic National Convention opens at the Wells Fargo Center.

Iasso, 19, and two other Quinnipiac students — Michael Raimondo, 20, of Shoreham, and Jeremy Wiss, 19, of Massapequa Park, both of whom were at the Republican National Convention last week in Cleveland — are taking part in an internship program that is giving them an up-close view of how the nation’s two major political parties formally select their presidential and vice presidential nominees.

“I thought I’d get to see something that doesn’t happen very often,” Iasso said last week. “This is the only election that will be going on when I’m in college studying political science, so I thought this would be perfect.”

The students had joined a program organized by the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars in Washington, D.C., that places students in support roles at the conventions.

Iasso has been assigned to a “hall access team” that performs tasks such as checking credentials. Raimondo worked with a CNN television crew, and Wiss worked with CBS News.

During the four-day GOP event, Raimondo and Wiss saw floor fights over convention rules, speeches by party leaders such as former House speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and the formal nomination of Donald Trump as the party’s presidential nominee.

Raimondo called the experience “really awesome.”

The students prepared for the conventions by attending seminars with speakers such as Meena Bose, director of the Peter S. Kalikow Center for the Study of the American Presidency at Hofstra University.

The seminars include a history of political conventions and address “the more critical question: Why does the United States use this system to pick a president? It’s really strange and complicated,” said Quinnipiac political science professor Scott McLean.

Wiss and Raimondo, both of whom said they support Trump, crossed paths last week with political figures such as former Republican presidential contender Ben Carson and Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford). Wiss said he met comedian Stephen Colbert.

Wiss said he called his grandparents one night and told them to turn on the television because he was sitting near Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort when C-SPAN pointed a camera at him.

“What surprised me was the access I had to seeing everyone,” Wiss said. “Anyone you can name, I’ve seen or spoken to. It’s an amazing thing.”

Iasso, who said he voted for Bernie Sanders in the primaries but now supports presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, said he wasn’t sure what he’d say if he met the former secretary of state.

“I’d just be like, ‘Oh, my goodness, Madam Secretary,’ ” Iasso said. “I’d be at a loss for words.”

Three Quinnipiac University political science students from Long Island served as interns at the Republican and Democratic conventions.


Age: 20

Hometown: Shoreham

Attended: Republican National Convention

Role: Assisted CNN anchor Chris Cuomo

Party registration: Republican


Age: 19

Hometown: Massapequa Park

Attended: Republican National Convention

Role: Assisted CBS news crew

Party registration: Republican


Age: 19

Hometown: Port Jefferson

Attended: Democratic National Convention

Role: Hall access team

Party registration: Democrat


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

Latest Long Island News