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Smith shares page experiences with Atmore Rotary members

By By Adrienne McKenzie
After living out his political dreams in Washington, D.C., Escambia County High School junior Tray Smith is now back in Atmore sharing his experiences with area residents about his semester as a House page.
Smith spoke to Rotarians at their meeting Tuesday about what it was like to work with political figures in D.C. and also about the presidential primary elections held yesterday.
"It has been an interesting semester," Smith said. "In September I joined 46 pages in the House program. Each page is given a different assignment and I was assigned in the cloakroom. Cloakroom staffers and pages keep up with what is going on on the House floor. It was always interesting for me to be on the floor and keep up with the schedule."
Smith said there were both Democratic and Republican pages. Because the Republican party is the minority, there were only 14 Republican pages and there were 32 Democrat pages. However, a Democratic page may not necessarily work for Democrats and a Republican page may not work for Republicans. The Democratic and Republican pages learned to work together, Smith said.
"We had some Republicans working for Democrats and some Democrats working for Republicans," he said. "All pages shared the same residence hall. We all learned how to be friends with one another regardless of our political interests."
Smith said a typical day for a page began at 6:45 a.m. with school in the Library of Congress. School usually ended at 9 a.m. and then the pages would go to the Capitol and begin work. Every other Saturday the pages went on field trips to various sites in D.C.
Smith said he has made many friends through the page program. Although pages do not receive much positive media attention, Smith believes it is a good program.
"Now that we're all back home, we've been keeping up with each other," he said. "The page program really does a lot of good things to help cultivate young leaders."
According to Smith, he was in D.C. at an interesting time with the presidential elections nearing.
"Now we move into this presidential election today," he said. "If you were to poll the page residence hall, I think the most supported candidate would be Barack Obama."
Although the majority of the pages were Obama fans, Smith said the Democratic race could be neck-in-neck between Obama and Hillary Clinton. However, Smith believes John McCain will win the Republican vote.
"I personally think the Republicans will wrap up their nominees today," he said. "I am relatively sure McCain will be the Republican nominee very soon."
As for Smith's future political plans, he must complete high school before he even begins to think about becoming the next George Washington or Abraham Lincoln.