Christos Ioannou, a first-year political science major, got the opportunity to work on former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign over mid-term break, traveling to Columbia, South Carolina, to do so in the days leading up to the state’s Democratic primary.
The opportunity arose for Ioannou after his father bumped into Ohio Congressman, Tim Ryan, at the airport and got his business card from him. Congressman Ryan endorsed Biden after ending his own campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, so Ioannou thought that he might have connections to the Biden campaign.
He eventually got into contact with Congressman Ryan’s former campaign manager, who then helped him get into contact with people from Biden’s campaign in South Carolina.
“The stars kind of aligned,” Ioannou said.
He did quite a bit of ground work while working on the campaign for the week, which mostly included knocking on doors and encouraging people to get out and vote in the primary. He also made some phone calls after all of the door knocking.
The experience made him believe in the power of southern hospitality, especially since some of the people who weren’t Biden supporters still gave him the time of day and listened to what he had to say.
“I had a lovely conversation with a woman who was supporting [Bernie] Sanders, and she was willing to just stand there on her front porch and talk for a good 10 to 15 minutes,” Ioannou said.
Biden ended up winning the Democratic primary in South Carolina that week, so a victory rally was hosted in Columbia.
Of course, Ioannou attended and was even invited to stand in the crowd behind Biden while he gave his speech. According to Ioannou, you can see him standing in the crowd if you go back and watch a video of Biden’s victory speech.
Ioannou also got the chance to meet Biden at an event, where he brought his copy of Biden’s memoir, Promise Me, Dad, to be signed by him.
When he met him for the first time, he asked for a selfie. Biden was happy to do so, and grabbed Ioannou’s phone to capture their moment together. His face lit up when he told him that he had traveled all the way from Cleveland to help with his campaign.
“He’s a really personable guy,” Ioannou said. “I got to go to some other campaign events too, with some of the other [Democratic] candidates. He was the only one who would stick around to make sure every question was answered, every issue was addressed, and every photo was taken. I respect that.”
The aspect of the campaign experience that Ioannou appreciated the most was being able to meet and talk with voters while knocking on doors. He liked hearing their reasons for supporting Biden, especially after Biden had lost in the first few Democratic primaries.
He also learned a lot about how truly human-driven most political campaigns are, and all of the hard work that goes into a successful campaign.
“It was really surreal, but in all the right ways.”