Note: I wrote this article in the summer of 2012 (in between my sophomore and junior years of high school). A preview for President Obama’s re-election victory in 2012, it was published by ThreeSixty Journalism and the Saint Paul Pioneer Press.
Bob Koss, a volunteer with the “Romney for President” campaign, got his start in politics when he was just 15 years old and has been enthusiastically involved ever since.
Surveys show that his generation tends to be more liberal and less politically active, but Koss, 25, of St. Paul has consistently been the opposite since hearing a rousing speech by the future Republican governor of Wisconsin.
It all started in 2002, when there was an opening for the Milwaukee County executive office, and Scott Walker decided to run. Koss went to one of Walker’s speeches and liked his approach to politics.
“I loved how he spoke. He spoke about small government and individual responsibility,” Koss said. He joined the campaign and went door-to-door asking people to support Walker.
Walker eventually won that election and rose through the ranks to become the current, controversial governor of Wisconsin.
Now Koss’ challenge is even bigger. He hopes that his volunteering will help Romney make history in Minnesota, which has voted for Democrats in the last nine presidential elections. If the election were to happen today, Koss would give Romney a “50/50” shot at winning the presidency.
Koss’ father was a blue-collar worker for almost 40 years, and his mother worked in administrative positions. His mother was very active in community projects, which sparked his interest in public policy, “though she never told me how I should feel.”
Although his family generally shared a conservative philosophy, Koss said he became a conservative independently.
He moved to Minnesota seven years ago to study political science at the University of Minnesota. In 2008, Koss supported Mitt Romney’s run in the primaries. After Romney lost to Sen. John McCain, Koss joined the McCain-Palin campaign as an intern and was later hired as a field staffer, overseeing interns and volunteers.
In 2010, at the age of 23, Koss ran for the district 66B seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives, but he lost overwhelmingly to the popular DFL incumbent Alice Hausman. He currently works for the Minnesota Republican Senate Caucus as an aide to state Sen. Joe Gimse, R-Richmond, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee.
Koss backs Romney because he isn’t a “purist” who is unwilling to compromise. In Koss’ opinion, that is necessary to represent the American people. He also believes that Romney has a worthy set of credentials, especially in terms of economic policy.
“You look at Governor Romney’s life, (and) it has been a success no matter what you examine,” he said. He specifically referred to how Romney turned the once-disastrous 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics into one of the most successful to date.
This election year, Koss has once again devoted himself to the campaign and is overjoyed that Romney is the presidential nominee. He especially likes Romney’s “Reagan-esque optimism.”
“He makes you believe that America really is the most exceptional nation on the face of the earth,” Koss said. Even though Koss thinks that President Barack Obama’s policies have worsened the economy, he doesn’t think that Obama is entirely to blame.
“I will freely admit that (the economy) was in a downward spiral when he was elected and when he took the oath of office,” Koss said. However, he thinks that Romney’s policies would help the economy improve.
“I can guarantee you that as president, Romney would stop the spending and reduce the deficit,” Koss said. By cutting unnecessary government spending, Koss hopes that people won’t be able to take “advantage of government services.”
In terms of foreign policy, Koss thinks, Obama has “been going around apologizing for this nation,” and he thinks that Romney would instead “restore our international standing.”
The biggest problems that Koss has with Obama are his approach toward immigration and health-care issues. He believes that the fence along the border with Mexico should be extended and that companies that hire illegal immigrants should be fined.
“When we have an unemployment crisis, we can’t be allowing illegal aliens to get a job here,” Koss said. He also thinks that repealing “Obamacare,” the president’s controversial health-care policy, would allow businesses to hire more people and therefore improve the economy.