Southwestern Student a Master at Political Advance Work
Even the smallest details make a huge difference. That’s what Taylor Spalla, a senior business and political science double major from Boerne, has learned in his work as an advance representative for Vice President Dick Cheney and Republican presidential candidate John McCain.
Spalla got his foot in the door to do political advance work through Chris Caudill, a 2007 Southwestern graduate who was one of his Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers. During Spalla’s first year at Southwestern, Caudill introduced him to a political consultant he knew in Houston. The consultant invited Spalla to do an internship with him that summer. “As a reward at the end of the summer he took me on a trip to Washington and introduced me to some people there,” Spalla says.
As a result of this connection, several people at the White House began calling Spalla to do advance work as time permitted during the school year. He even got to take a trip to Saudi Arabia with Vice President Cheney. “I became enthralled with it (advance work) and really loved doing it,” Spalla says. “I discovered this was my way to serve my country.”
During advances, the logistics team is responsible for creating a welcoming and camera-ready location, along with ensuring the event goes off without a glitch. “We are their eyes and ears,” Spalla says. “We try to make it as comfortable as possible.” Spalla says that during the advances there is never a dull moment, which has allowed him to develop his multi-tasking skills and to work efficiently under stressful situations. “Changes are constantly occurring and I have learned that even big changes are achievable with little time,” he says.
Spalla recently put his logistical expertise to work by coordinating a forum Southwestern hosted for three candidates who are running for state representative in the district that includes Southwestern. One of the candidates said the document Spalla prepared outlining the event was “the most impressive I have ever seen.” Sen. McCain’s senior staff considers a town hall event in Denver that Spalla did the advance work for “the best event he (McCain) has done in 30 years.”
Advance work isn’t all work and no play, however. During Spalla’s visit to Saudi Arabia, his co-workers and U.S. Embassy employees played a practical joke on him. “They told me I had to find a helicopter and had me stressing out over it,” Spalla says. “I found out about a day and a half into it that it was a big joke.”
Spalla says that even though he may not get personal recognition for his contributions to an event, the experience overall is very rewarding. “Being able to see an event live on television is a personal satisfaction,” Spalla says. “It is a great job for someone my age. I’m the youngest person on all the trips I have been on.”
Spalla hopes to become a politician himself someday, but in the meantime he plans to continue getting experience working for others. “At my age, this is the closest I can get to the action,” he says.