Jackson enjoys ‘best job in the world’

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, October 28, 2012

     What has been a ride of a lifetime for the past three years just might be coming to an end come Tuesday, Nov. 6. Then again, it may just be beginning! It will be voters who make that decision as the 2012 presidential election season comes to an end.

     As crowds were roaring in Reno, Nev., Wednesday afternoon, Garrett Jackson was standing backstage waiting with Mitt Romney. It was the first of three events for the day, a day that had started at 5 a.m. in Colorado and would not end until some 19 hours later in Cincinnati, Ohio. In between, there would be a stop in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It is a non-stop pace running up to Election Day.

     It’s all in a day’s work for the young 2005 Brookhaven Academy graduate. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

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     “I have the best job in the world,” Jackson said by cellphone, with the sound of the crowd roaring in the background. “I have a few minutes; let’s talk.”

     A few minutes later, a pause, “Mr. Jacobs, can I call you back? The governor is going on the stage.”

     Garrett Jackson is Gov. Romney’s personal assistant. He is the guy who sees to every need of the Republican presidential candidate. He is the guy who makes sure the proper jacket is on hand. He is the guy who makes sure the proper tie is in place and the shoes match. He also is the guy who makes sure timetables are kept and appointments met. Garrett’s title is Body Man. It is hard to get to the Republican nominee without speaking to Garrett Jackson first!

     But even more important, Garrett has the ear of Romney. A trusted aide, he is a confidant; he is the go-to person for anyone needing access. He knows every move, every nuisance, every quirk – he should, for he has been constantly at the candidate’s side for over three years.

     It all started with an internship just after graduating from Ole Miss.

     “I was the young single guy on staff, and they needed someone to travel with the governor on his book tour,” Jackson said. “After the book tour, Gov. Romney asked me to join him on the presidential campaign and I have been with him since.”

     About an hour later, my phone rings, “This is just a very exciting, wild and crazy ride,” Jackson said, apologizing for having to hang up earlier. “There are over 3,000 people here with lots of energy. They are fired up, we are fired up, and the momentum is on our side.”

     Two days earlier on Monday night, Garrett could be seen on CNN prepping the governor for the debate. Garrett sat in the seat President Obama would soon be sitting. His job was to keep the governor relaxed, they joked and kidded around. There is a photo of Romney laughing as Garrett portrays President Obama trying to peek at the governor’s notes.

     “It was a pretty surreal moment sitting there,” he said. “This has just been an amazing experience … I have the coolest job in the world and I work for the finest man there is.”

     His cellphone is a vital tool for his job.

     “If someone needs to speak with the governor, this is the number they call,” he said. Former President George Bush has the number, as does President Bill Clinton. He has spoken to both and many others. Garrett uses the same phone to send out tweets on Twitter. His Twitter user name is #mittsbodyman and he has over 29,000 followers. “I have worn out four or five iPhones!”

     His most memorable moments? After a long pause, standing at the opening ceremonies at the Olympics this past summer and meeting world leaders. Standing at Red Rock, Colo., in front of 15,000 people. With a laugh, he said, I even met Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicholas and Phil Mickelson. An avid golfer, Garrett has Phil’s cell phone number!

     His most embarrassing moments? – “Oh my,” he said with a laugh. “Yesterday (Tuesday), I realized five minutes before he was to go on the stage at Red Rock that I had left the governor’s speech notes on the plane!” Jackson explained the information is all in Romney’s head anyway, so it was not vital. “I told the governor, he was going to have to wing it,” he said with an embarrassing laugh.

     As the election winds down to the final days, I asked Garrett what where his plans – win or lose – for the future. Without missing a beat, he said, “I plan to be the personal assistant to the president of the United States … I have no plan B.”

     Not bad for a local kid who grew up here in Southwest Mississippi. Dreams are about reaching for the stars. This young Brookhaven man has done just that and has grabbed a big one.

     On election night, Jackson will be at the governor’s side in Boston. He very well may be one of the first to shake the hand of the next president of the United States!

     Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602, or send e-mail to bjacobs@dailyleader.com.