Scott Jensen has been supporting Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich even before Gingrich wanted to run for office.
“In 2008 I wanted him to run [for president],” said Jensen. “I was looking at all the different people who were prospects and he was the most intelligent person that I had heard.”
On Thursday, Jensen finally got to shake the hand of “his ideal” president. He finally got to shake the hand of one of his heroes.
Jensen came a long way on his journey to that one handshake. His strictly Republican father served in World War II and instilled a sense of nationalism in his son. But sometimes this nationalism began debates between the two.
“We used to have debates,” said Jensen. “I didn’t like Rush Limbaugh and my dad used to say, ‘Why don’t you start listening to him and then see what you think?’ So I started listening to him and I realized he had a lot of really smart things to say.”
Jensen grew up with Republican values and slowly became a conservative. With his solidified political values, he followed Gingrich’s campaign on television. He liked Gingrich’s appeal to the American people.
“He reminded me of [former President Ronald] Regan because of all of the ideas [he has],” said Jensen. “He’ll make you feel proud as an American.”
When he discovered that Gingrich would be speaking in Elgin, Jensen was more than eager to try to see him campaign in person. He asked his wife Susan if they could go see him speak, and she agreed. Since Jensen sustained an injury and was on a leave of absence from work, he knew that he could finally see Gingrich in person.
“It was fortunate that it was so close,” said Jensen. “When the opportunity presented itself, we knew we had to do it.”
On Thursday, Jensen and his wife Susan started their day early. The two woke up around 6 a.m. and began their days before heading off to Elgin, where Gingrich would first be speaking.
After Jensen and his wife saw Gingrich speak at Judson University, they tried to get a glimpse of him in their home town of Carpentersville. However, since Gingrich’s appearance in Carpentersville was private, Jensen did not get to see him. When he was told that he could not see Gingrich, Jensen spoke with a Secret Service agent and discovered that Gingrich would be speaking in Lake in the Hills. Jensen didn’t flinch as he decided that he would go see Gingrich again, but this time with his 10-year-old daughter Kaila as well.
Kaila is one of the reasons behind why Jensen supports Gingrich. Jensen is uncertain of America’s economic future and he believes that Gingrich will create the America he wants to see his daughter live in.
“We are going so in debt that it’s really scary,” said Jensen. “I’m concerned for my daughter [and] what her future is going to look like. I want my daughter to be able to grow up in an America that I grew up in.”
So Jensen called his daughter out of school 20 minutes early, picked her up, and headed for the private hangar near Lake in the Hills Airport. He knew that it was important for his daughter to see Gingrich as she was interested in politics as well.
Like his father did, Jensen passes on his viewpoints to his daughter. He believes that it is important that is daughter is informed at a young age. She has supported the Republican Party since she was young.
“In 2008, when she was in school, she was one of the only kids who voted for [Senator John] McCain and [Sarah] Palin,” said Jensen. “When you look at it now, my daughter is proud she voted the way she did.”
When Jensen came to the hangar in Lake in the Hills, he wasn’t carrying much. All he had was a notebook and a Zoom video and audio recorder. The notebook was for signatures and the video recorder was so he could show Gingrich to others on YouTube.
When Gingrich arrived at the hangar, the Jensens applauded loudly over hundreds of other supporters. After Gingrich gave his speech on American energy solutions, Gingrich and his wife shook hands with their supporters. The Jensens, who stood in the second row from the stage, were in good position.
Just around 3:15 p.m., Jensen shook Gingrich’s hand and wished him good luck.
“I’ve been following him for years and just the fact that I got a handshake from him, and I got his autograph, and his wife’s autograph, and he signed my daughter’s little book, and my daughter got a picture with Newt on top of it is totally awesome.” said Jensen.
Jensen, who has met some of his idols in the past, is more than pleased with following Gingrich’s campaign on Thursday.
“It’s very fulfilling,” said Jensen. “I’m a songwriter and I’ve been able to meet some of my musical heroes over the years too. So it’s the same kind of thing being able to meet somebody that you really look up to.”
Since Jensen will have to return to work soon and Gingrich may not do well in the Republican Primaries, the probability of the two meeting again is low.
But, Jensen will still have his conservative values as he vows to vote for whichever Republican candidate runs for president in November. And he’ll have one more thing.
The handshake of one of his heroes.