The Man in the “MAGA” Hat
On the night of the most suspenseful event in U.S. politics, SPS senior Eli Nachmany — buried amongst a sea of red hats and matching ties — screamed in celebration at President Donald Trump’s victory party at the New York Hilton Midtown.
But working for the winning candidate’s campaign isn’t a feat one accomplishes overnight — five years of hard work culminated in this glorious moment for Nachmany.
Nachmany received the first of many peeks into the political world through an opportunity offered by his New Jersey high school after accepting an internship at his local state senator’s office.
He was thrown into a back room to sortmail, arrange envelopes and stamp documents with the senator’s seal. Although this wasn’t the engaging political internship he yearned for, this first step afforded him new opportunities.
Nachmany has since interned at the congressman’s, governor’s and U.S. District Court offices in New Jersey. He has also held positions at the U.S. House of Representatives and on Chris Christie’s presidential campaign.
“It just kept being a series of opportunities that I really could not turn down,” Nachmany said. “At the time, whatever I was doing seemed like the coolest thing in the world.”
Most recently, this attitude led Nachmany to work on Trump’s campaign and later for the team that organized the inauguration. He received a call from NYU alumna and former Trump campaign employee Megan Powers asking if he could be on a plane to Toledo, Ohio the next day. Without a second thought, he said yes.
Nachmany initially worked as a site advance for the campaign, arriving at a location several days before the candidate’s scheduled visit to prepare for the event. He said his job encompassed everything from ensuring that event staff had outfitted the venue with sound and lighting to planning the aircraft arrival and motorcade route with Secret Service.
During the last week of the election, Nachmany was promoted to assistant to the traveling press secretary for Trump’s presidential campaign, and he facilitated press coverage for the candidate’s events.
“A good portion of my job was also listening, because I was the contact for the administration on the ground,” Nachmany explained. “People felt comfortable sharing their stories, thoughts, feelings and beliefs with us.”
On one such occasion, Nachmany accompanied Trump’s tour of Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Dayton, Ohio. Nachmany said the employees had gifted the entourage with an Ohio-shaped piece of sheet metal with the Trump-Pence logo painted in red and thanked Trump for acknowledging their concerns and sacrifices.
“Many of them — these are Ohioans, these are real salt-of-the-earth good people — play a pivotal part in making that chair, the chairs that we’re sitting on right now, or these cabinets in which we can put files, the columns that hold this building up that we tend to forget,” Nachmany said. “We take a lot of this for granted.”
After Election Day, Nachmany received another opportunity to work with the administration as an event coordinator in charge of the inaugural swearing-in ceremony. His team worked with the local police, Secret Service and military figures to protect Trump.
Now, two months after the inauguration, Nachmany feels that his campaign adrenaline rush has flatlined. He’s now patiently awaiting graduation and post-graduation opportunities.
Nachmany’s SPS professor and faculty advisor David Hollander has witnessed his astounding dedication and ambition.
“On paper, no student in the history of our program has done more in and outside the classroom,” Hollander said. “Plus, I do not believe I have ever met a student so sure of his goals from the outset of his college career and so willing to do the roadwork to realize those goals.”
Nachmany said he is accustomed to people questioning his decision to work for Trump’s campaign and that he has lost a lot of friends for believing that Trump’s policies best reflect American interests.
“But one of the leadership qualities on which I most pride myself is my fiercely independent streak, insofar as I am not afraid to stand alone for something that I believe to be right,” Nachmany said.
Charles Grantham is the director at Seton Hall University’s Center for Sports Management and Nachmany’s former NYU faculty advisor. Grantham believes that this self-determination and independence make Nachmany a role model for other students.
“He’s unusual in that he’s self-assured and confident — but not overly so — which [makes] him easy to work with, and I think that generates interest from other students to follow,” Grantham said. “And I think he’s sort of an inspiration for higher aspirations.”
But Nachmany will soon be taking his political experience and leadership qualities elsewhere.
He is set to graduate in May with a Harvard Law School acceptance and possible Trump administration employment under his belt.
“I’m happy with the decisions I’ve made,” Nachmany said. “I sleep well every night. And if I’ve learned one thing from politics, you’re not going to make everybody happy — far from it.”
Email Sierra Jackson at [email protected]