When he was 13 years old, David Helfenbein fell head-over-heels in love - political love, that is - with Hillary Clinton.
It all began on a fateful day eight years ago when Clinton came to speak at the now-College senior's middle school in Chappaqua, New York.
Helfenbein convinced his principal to let him speak before Clinton at an assembly. He proceeded to praise the former First Lady's politics and her ability to "light up the room."
After the assembly, Helfenbein asked Clinton for a job. That evening he received a phone call at home and officially became a part of Clinton's political entourage. It was a fateful day, he said, adding, "I realize how lucky I am."
Today, Helfenbein is still going strong as one of Clinton's most loyal and energetic supporters, serving as co-chair of Penn for Hillary. His long-term commitment stems from his personal view of politics.
"It is not policies that drive my enthusiasm but the people in politics. I consider myself more interested in the politicians and the people," he said.
As for Clinton, Helfenbein did not have a word of criticism for her, but lauded her warmth, her sincerity and her concern for those around her.
"Every year she checks in with me, she asks me what classes I'm taking and has even talked with me about one of my papers," he said.
He said that both of the Clintons are "beyond brilliant. They are the iconic couple of our generation."
This loyalty has earned Helfenbein a well-known name in Clinton's political network.
"He's somebody we count on, whether on the campaign trail or back at school," said Ann Lewis, a senior advisor to Clinton. "I am very high on him."
Lewis added that Helfenbein is "a member of the Clinton family, in the sense that campaigns become families."
As one might suspect, Helfenbein's history with Clinton has furnished him with a slew of unique stories.
His favorite experience was spending the summer of 2003 in Washington, D.C. as Clinton's Congressional page.
"I have never liked walking into a place better than walking onto the Senate floor," he said. "It is just magnificent."
He particularly enjoyed when Clinton introduced him to her famous Democratic colleague, Ted Kennedy.
And last summer, he packed up his car and drove out to Iowa to work on Clinton's first, but ultimately unsuccessful, front in the Democratic primary.
He worked in Clinton's "communications shop" there and wrote press releases. On occasion, though, he won the chance to write up the speaking points for Clinton's addresses.
Another memorable moment, Helfenbein said, was at his high-school graduation party. Although she was invited, Hillary Clinton couldn't attend. Her husband, however, made an unexpected appearance after the event, offering a gift and congratulations.
"It was surreal," Helfenbein recalled.
With years of politics under his belt, Helfenbein is still eager for more. A political science and communications and public service double major, he plans to attend law school and then enter the political ring as a full-time fighter.
But Helfenbein is still unsure whether a public office is in his future.
"People who walk around at a young age and say 'I am going to be president' are ridiculous," he said. "It is a lot of hard work, and a lot of it is fate.
"If I am lucky enough to be a politician, that would be great, but you have to take it one day at a time."Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.