Getting up close and personal to U.S. lawmakers in D.C. usually entails a never ending maze of spokespersons and communications directors.
Sometimes I feel lucky if they simply return my phone calls. But this week I got to do something I have never done before – stand 3 feet away from three U.S. senators and snap a photograph.
I had the opportunity on Thursday to attend a posh luncheon put on by a conservative faith based group at the Omni Hotel in Woodley Park. There were roughly 150 people there –three of which were Senators Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee – enjoying a three course meal of salad, turkey, and chocolate molten lava cake. The senators were there to discuss policy goals and role of religion in government. Rubio and Cruz are considered potential presidential candidates in 2016 – one of the main reasons I was sent to cover the event.
I arrived an hour early – expecting a public relations officer to seat me in the back of the ballroom behind all of the people attending the event as supporters. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find no assigned seating. I even had to write my own media pass. I was able to walk freely throughout the ballroom where the luncheon was being held.
No one yelled at me to move or demanded my credentials as the senators took center stage. I felt like a child on the first day of school – nervously excited about the opportunity to photograph the senators from 3 feet away! Considering how high profile these senators are – I never thought it would be that easy. Mike Lee and Marco Rubio stood at the podium on the stage throughout their entire speech but Ted Cruz came right up to the edge of the stage – I had to scoot backwards to get a decent photo.
Many big presidential campaigns start at small venues such as this one. Politicians can freely promote their political priorities to an audience that is usually sympathetic to their views. Campaigns have to start somewhere. As a political junkie, it was a great experience to witness the beginning of what might be a major presidential campaign.
Whether any of these men end up running for president in 2016 is still unknown. But I will keep my photos just in case they do.