Frank Schlupp is a volunteer with the Obama campaign in Ward 58 of Northeast Philadelphia, an area that went heavily for Hillary Clinton in the primaries. This is his first political campaign he's ever been involved with, and since he's started in August, he's jumped in head first, volunteering weeknights and weekends, as well as taking time off from work. What started as a stint registering voters has bloomed into marathons of weekend canvassing, late nights at the campaign office, and much more.
What sets Schlupp apart from the hoards of other enthusiastic first-time volunteers and Obamaniacs?
Unlike liberal arugula-eating twenty-somethings, Schlupp is a married family man... and his wife is a Republican.
When did you first get involved in the Obama campaign? What brought you in?
Schlupp: I received a call from a campaign worker named Christine Goethals in August. She asked if I'd be interested in helping register people to vote.
This is your first time getting involved in a political campaign and election. How does this race differ for you compared to years passed?
There's just too much at stake for us to sit home and watch this one on CNN. I've got a 13 year old daughter and I'm very concerned about what the world may look like when she's my age.
I remember visiting Barack's website and reading his quote, "I'm Asking You to Believe...Not just in my ability to bring about real change in Washington. I'm asking you to believe in yours."
The quote reminded me that as Americans we are empowered to change things for the better if we step up and work hard to make a difference.
How does your involvement in the campaign impact your relationships with friends and family?
I don't think I'll know until after the election.
What do your family and friends think of your commitment? Is it ever hard for them?
Some of my friends and co-workers think I'm nuts. My family has been very supportive. My sister has gotten more involved recently. Before the campaign I worked pretty crazy hours so my family is kind of used to me not always being there.
What's different this time is that they know I'm in this until Nov 4th.
I know I miss my family. I miss soccer games. I miss going to Tanyard's Farm to pick out pumpkins for Halloween. But then I think about our people in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere who are sacrificing much, much more.
Your wife is a Republican, and has been canvassed by the field office you volunteer with. How has she in particular reacted to your involvement?
Ambivalence. Sometimes she feels as though my choice to volunteer was a selfish way to feed my own ego. But she knows this is important to me and she's been very supportive. I think secretly she's proud of me.
Do you relate differently to your community? Has your volunteer work drawn you more closely into local politics?
I now know all the street names in the 58th Ward. It's definitely easier to get around. I do plan to stay involved. There's a guy named Brendan Boyle running for state rep. I think I'll go see him after the election to see how I can help.
How have you changed personally - temperament, attitudes, ideas, emotions -- because of your volunteer work?
I think the net effect has been to reinforce my own strong belief in our interdependence.
What was the highlight of the past year so far? The low point?
A few weeks ago I met a journalist who fled Afghanistan with his wife because he had received death threats from the Taliban. He had just become a citizen but he still needed to register to vote. As he was filling out the registration form he told me he was going to vote for McCain because he was under the impression that the Republicans had liberated his country. I told him that in fact American soldiers had liberated his country and that Barack Obama will refocus our efforts in Afghanistan as the real central front in the war on terror. He seemed convinced and said he would support Obama. Now I'm not sure if he'll vote for Barack but I'm pretty sure he will vote. The idea that someone can escape terror in their own country and come to America and vote for President is powerful stuff.
The lowest point in this campaign for me has been hearing a young person say that it doesn't matter, "They'll pick whoever they want anyway."
First, the apathy kills me. Second, I'm fearful we have another Florida this cycle. That would really kill me.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
My daughter. And I might add, my only accomplishment. Recently I had an opportunity to work with my daughter on a school project about the election. We had a great time discussing the issues for the first time.
I am so proud of her.
Will you be able to sleep the night before Nov. 4?
No, sleeping is actually discouraged by the campaign as it takes away from data entry time.
How do you feel now - with just one week left until the election? What's going through your head?
GOTV (Get Out the Vote). We have a massive organizing job in front of us. I hope I am up to the challenge.
What do you plan to do Election Day?
I'm flying to Austin for a seminar. But I took vacation this week through Monday to work on the campaign 24X7.
You've committed a tremendous amount of time, energy, and emotion to this campaign. After Election Day, do you plan to remain involved in some way?
I plan to go back to school to become a high school history teacher. I think this is the best way I can contribute in the future.