Meet the GOP stand-ins

By Sarah Wojcik

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The GOP debate will be held at Oakland University’s O’rena on Nov. 9  and will be aired on CNBC from 8 to 10 p.m. In order for the night to run as smoothly as possible, CNBC is staging a six-hour dress rehearsal the day before featuring members of the OU community as stand-ins for the candidates. The Oakland Post spoke with four of them.

Herman Cain: Torres McLean, MPA graduate student

Torres McLean, a graduate student working on his master of public administration, will stand in as candidate Herman Cain.

Erin Sudrovech, the associate director of alumni engagement, who helped organize the stand-ins, encouraged McLean to volunteer.

“I thought it was an interesting thing to volunteer for,” McLean said. “It’s a great opportunity for Oakland University students to play an active role in history.”

McLean said that, although he’s a busy college student with two jobs, he tries to keep up with politics through online news websites and watching the news on TV. He also votes every year.

During his undergrad, McLean said he was involved with AMA, the student senate and community service.

“I’m happy I’m a part of it,” McLean said. “I can look back in a couple of years and remind myself that I did that and pass it on to friends and family.”

Ron Paul: Steve Wynne, English secondary education, German K-12

Steve Wynne, a junior double majoring in English secondary education and German K-12 education, will represent Ron Paul.

Wynne, a peer mentor for Career Services, said he found out about the event months beforehand when he saw it published in The Oakland Post.

As a cell group leader for the Honors College’s mandatory colloquium class for freshman, Wynne wanted to bring his students to the debate, but didn’t realize the screening process would be so stringent.

“I am absolutely ecstatic to be chosen for the event,” he said. “I can’t even grasp it.”

Wynne described his political standing as liberal. He is one of the founding members of “Rochester PRIDE,” a program against substance abuse and self harm.

He said he is more internationally-minded than most people, having spent a year studying abroad in Germany and enjoys learning about different cultures.

Newt Gingrinch: Kevin Stephens, Secondary education

Kevin Stephens, a transfer student from Grand Valley State University, is pursuing a degree in  secondary education with a specialization in history and social sciences and will represent Newt Gingrich.

“People say I have an average face that looks like everyone,” Stephens said.

Persuaded by associate professor of political science Terri Towner, Stephens said he was interested in the topic and applied shortly after finding out about the opportunity.

“I think (my experience as a stand-in) will serve as an excellent example if I’m teaching kids about politics, government and whatnot,” he said.

With the vast array of students at the university, Stephens said he’s glad he can represent the non-traditional population.

As for what he wants to see candidates discuss, Stephens said he is not a firm believer that government can create jobs but would like to know the specific details of their plans.

Jon Huntsman: Simon Obarto III, Communications alumni

Simon Obarto III, a May 2010 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in communication who now works as a staff recruiter for Epitec, will be Jon Huntsman’s stand-in.

“I heard about it through a friend of mine,” Obarto said. “They had received a notification on Facebook about it, so I went to the OU website and filled out my info.”

Obarto said he has always been interested in politics.

“I like to think that my vote counts,” he said. “I’m a very opinionated person.”

He said he enjoys meeting new people and helping people out.  Pertaining to the election, Obarto said he’s excited to play a role in it and hopes that he will get a chance to meet Huntsman.