MANCHESTER, N.H. — Abdelaziz Alsharawy did something last year that wouldn’t be prudent for pretty much all other college students.
He gave Donald Trump money.
“I had like 10 Egyptian pounds on me,” Alsharawy said. “So I gave it to him as a souvenir. So actually, I gave Trump money! Which I think says a lot about me.”
Alsharawy is a third-year, 21-year-old student at St. Anselm College here in Manchester— 5,408 miles away from his home in Cairo. And for the next year-plus, he’ll have a front-and-center seat to the spectacle of American democracy, as New Hampshire hosts the first-in-the-nation primaries.
“Of course, I think it’s great,” Alsharawy said of his experience. “Back home, we are way behind on democracy in general. We need to take really major steps in order to reach what America is at now. I think it’s very awesome that people get to see the candidates and interact with them a lot.”
St. Anselm’s Institute of Politics occasionally hosts the “Politics and Eggs” series with presidential hopefuls, as it did with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) on Friday. The college has been the grounds for town halls and other campaign-style events in the past. Separately, in Manchester on Friday and Saturday, official and likely GOP presidential candidates appeared at their first official cattle call — the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Summit hosted by the New Hampshire Republican Party.
“Zizo,” as he is called by friends and family, is a Kevin B. Harrington student ambassador at the Institute of Politics, where he participates in events like the “Politics and Eggs” series. The day he gave Trump a monetary souvenir, he had volunteered to warm up Trump’s car in the dead of winter. Last year, he was the “runner” for now-U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta (R) during a debate at the college, taking him from the green room to the debate and back.
On this day — a cool, dreary, and rainy Friday in April — Alsharawy was shuttling back and forth reporters and other attendees to the Institute of Politics via a golf cart he uses for a job at the admissions office. He invited a reporter who was walking to the institute to hop on. He took his passengers through a scenic, sometimes-offroad journey around the college, showing them the first-, second-, and third-year dorms and other campus buildings.
He also talked politics along the way. And though he raves about American democracy, he’s a dubious about at least one thing.
“I’m very skeptical about the money and where they get all the money to do all this,” he said. “Because traveling around is not cheap, and doing all of those events is not cheap. I don’t know. I’m very skeptical of the intentions as long as there are no caps on the amount of money spent in politics, so I’m not sure if a candidate who really deserves to win would have a chance and opportunity to win if he or she doesn’t have the money.
“I think all of the people we see are good fundraisers, and they are able to raise money,” he added. “That doesn’t mean they’re good candidates.”
Alsharawy obviously cannot vote. But the money factor, along with the general cringe he gives when saying the name, is one reason he would not vote for Bush, who spoke at the “Politics and Eggs” series on Friday.
Bush is the one very familiar candidate — or, at least, the one familiar name — to Alsharawy. He’s concerned about the foreign-policy doctrine of another Bush and how it would apply to an increasingly tenuous situation in the Middle East.
“Oh, I don’t think it’s Bush,” he said when asked if he had been impressed by any of the visiting potential candidates.
“I think the name holds a lot of negative correlation with that. I think it would be scary to vote for another Bush, based on the name, I think. Especially coming from where I’m from — the Middle East — the idea of having another Bush is scary.”
Alsharawy wants to get a Ph.D. in economics before his time is done in the U.S. Then, he hopes to go back home and run for Congress and/or Senate in Egypt. Until then, he can expect a lot of moments like the one he had with Trump.
“He didn’t tweet about it, though,” Alsharawy lamented. “I wish he did.”
Brett LoGiurato is the senior national political correspondent at Fusion, where he covers all things 2016. He'll give you everything you need to know about politics, with a healthy side of puns.