How Could a 28-Year-Old Activist and Former LI Intern Influence the 2012 Elections?

March 18, 2011 | By Lauren Hart

March 16, 2011, Arlington, VA—Sunday’s edition of The Atlantic featured an article by National Journal Political Correspondent Beth Reinhard where she says, “Now, potential presidential candidates know Ryan Rhodes on a first-name basis.”

Twenty-eight-year-old Ryan Rhodes, a former Leadership Institute intern, is a true conservative grassroots activist, arriving here only by way of an unlikely road.

To read the full article by Beth Reinhard, please click here.

“Rhodes never expected to be at the forefront of presidential politics. When he started college, he was more interested in partying and going to football games. He was found guilty of underage drinking in 2002. A couple years later, he left college and floated from one job to another: chef, construction worker, clothing store salesman, pizza delivery guy.”

In 2007 at Iowa State University Ryan was activated to politics after witnessing a “protest over a campus blood drive,” where “a handful of students were accusing the Red Cross of discriminating against gay men by refusing to take their higher-risk blood. To Rhodes, the protest smacked of political correctness, and he plunged into movement conservatism.”

He began reading conservative books like Barry Goldwater’s The Conscience of a Conservative and Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.

“He started going to church. He interned at the Leadership Institute, a boot camp for conservative activists in Virginia” and across the world.

Ryan has attended 12 LI trainings including a blogging workshop, campaign management school, future candidate school, online fundraising workshop, public relations school, advanced public speaking workshop, student publications workshop, TV trainings in techniques and on camera, and the youth leadership school, LI’s flagship school.

“In 2008, still in college, he turned theory into practice and ran for the Iowa House against a Democratic incumbent. He didn't have a car, so he took the bus. He wore out four pairs of shoes. The centerpiece of his platform was a plan to boost Iowa's economy by encouraging college graduates to stay in the state. If they got jobs in Iowa after graduation, the money they owed in income taxes would go toward paying off student loans.”

“After he lost the election, ‘literally penniless and eating eggs,’ Rhodes honed his chops at retail politics working at a Chrysler dealership and selling ads for a group of radio stations.”

“On the side, he organized tea party rallies and lobbied a key Republican, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, to vote against President Obama's health care reform. In 2010, he managed the unsuccessful congressional campaign of a retired pilot and gun enthusiast who carries a copy of the Constitution in his coat pocket.”

To read the full article in The Atlantic, please click here. 

The Leadership Institute is proud of former intern Ryan who is doing good things.

To see LI’s upcoming trainings and get plugged in like Ryan, please click here.  

The Leadership Institute is an educational foundation whose mission is to increase the number and effectiveness of conservative activists and leaders in the public policy process. LI trains and places conservatives in government, politics, and the media by teaching them how to succeed in the public policy process. To do that, LI offers 40 types of training programs, works with more than 1,465 conservative campus groups, and helps employers connect with conservative jobseekers. Since the Institute’s 1979 founding, more than 91,600 students have been trained. Alumni include U.S. Senators, Members of Congress, city council members, local mayors, state legislators, and conservative activists and officeholders at every level. For more information, please visit: http://www.leadershipinstitute.org

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