Elizabeth Girard '16 is a proud Republican from a family of Republicans, but even many who know her didn’t realize this until recently.
“I had always kept it to myself. I didn’t see the need to push it in people’s faces,” Girard says.
But her cloak was lifted in the days following presidential candidate Ben Carson’s visit to UNH in September. He posed for a selfie with Girard, a UNH photographer captured the moment and soon after, the image was posted to the UNH homepage, which sees about a half-million unique visitors each month.
“The photo goes up, and I said to myself, ‘Well, there’s no sense in hiding it anymore.’”
Girard had been “outed.” It was an unexpected turning point, but one that activated a series of great opportunities, including a big one tonight. Girard will appear on ABC News as part of a panel of Republican women who will be interviewed by political commentator Cokie Roberts. The segment will air between 6 and 6:30 p.m.
“I’m really excited about it,” Girard told UNH Today on Thursday afternoon in the hours before the two remaining Democratic candidates for president squared off in a debate on the very stage where Girard, herself, has performed over the last four years as a theatre and dance major at UNH.
The panel opportunity stems from Girard’s involvement with the UNH College Republicans. She became active with the group after Carson’s visit, attending many events and meeting all of the Republican presidential candidates who’ve come through the region.
“It’s been so much fun. People in New Hampshire are so into it. Everybody comes out. There’s a buzz in the air,” Girard says.
Emote for the Vote
Elizabeth Girard thinks politics and theatre are uncannily similar. “Presidential candidates giving a ‘town hall’ are basically auditioning to get the part of the nominee.” And candidates, like actors, need to have an emotional connection with their audience in order to get the part, she says. “You can have the best plan, but if you can’t connect with people, they’re not going to listen to you.”
Knowing Girard’s enthusiasm and interests, classmate Joe Sweeney ‘16, chair of the New Hampshire Young Republicans and a state representative, recommended her to the ABC producer.
The interview will focus on the election and on what it’s like to be a young Republican woman.
“The Republican party really needs to have a candidate who will unite the party,” says Girard, a Marblehead, Massachusetts, native who will graduate in May and is considering a career in television, film or politics.
“We millennials have a lot of power in this election, more than many realize. I think that we, everyone — Democrats and Republicans — really have to think about what is best for this country in the long term, not just the short term.”
She’s excited about the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday.
About being able to communicate her ideas on national television tonight, Girard seems fearless: “I think that I’m so, so lucky to have been part of the UNH theatre and dance department because they train us and provide us with these skills that can be applied to anything. I mean anything.”