I think I can pinpoint my interest in politics sparking when I developed a crush on the newly elected Tony Blair. I mean, what 14 year old could turn down such a handsome left-wing politician?
My political proclivities and my thirst for current events were growing on Election Night 2000. It was the first election I was old enough to cast a ballot. I was pumped I was involved, and I had no idea what a momentous night it was and that we wouldn’t know for weeks who won.
I was watching CNN when I noticed that the anchor was standing in front of the hotel across the street from my dorm. Then I realized there were sharpshooters pointed in the direction of my building. Vice President Al Gore had taken over the Loews hotel across the street and every major media outlet was covering the election 200 yards from my room. The scene was insane and so was I. Somehow, I was able to convince my two new best friends to go across the street and investigate with me.
We crossed the street and saw the dozens of police motorcycles lined up along the street entrance of the hotel. We kept walking and made our way into the complex through the parking garage. We saw the staff buses, a multitude of black Lincolns, and this one seemed to stand out.
Was I really taking a picture with the Vice President’s car? Probably not. More likely, someone like Donna Brazile or Karenna Gore Schiff or his masseuse. I can pretend though.
We were getting more gutsy and tried the doors leading into the hotel. They were open. There was no security, no guards, no hotel guests. There were sharpshooters on the roof and three college freshman just mosied on in to the building. We got on an elevator and I pushed a random floor. The button didn’t light up and I kept pushing it, with four or five suits on the elevator watching me get frustrated. We went up a flight and another person got on, swiped their key card, pushed the same button I had tried, and it lit up. Oops. Everyone on that elevator knew we didn’t belong. We skedaddled our way out of there, out the front door, in front of the cameras.
We spent the rest of the night watching the coverage. My heart dropping when they declared Florida. But I have seen Al Gore speak several times since that night and I always think back on the night I infiltrated the Loews Hotel.