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Many Irish people have been following the US Presidential candidates with fascination, and last week, Ted Cruz beat fellow Republican candidate Donald Trump in the battle for the tightly contested Iowa Caucus.

Cruz won with 28% of the vote versus 24% for Trump, 23% for Rubio, and 9% for Dr Ben Carson.

On Saturday morning, January 30th, TV personality Glenn Beck endorsed Ted Cruz at a rally in Iowa, at the Gateway Hotel.  He produced a compass owned by George Washington to compare the two men;

“A compass is used for exactness," Beck said. "I’m here to support Ted Cruz because he is exact in everything he does. His word is his bond. He believes, as George Washington did: Deeds not words."

Beck also asked who had travelled the furthest to attend the rally. The winner was invited up to the stage to meet Beck, and even got the chance to hold Washington’s compass.

The winner was Irish man Richard Corbally, who had travelled a long way indeed…

In fact, his journey began in Kilmainhamwood, in County Meath.  

Richard is a 23 year old graduate, who studied History and Politics at UCD.

After graduating in September, he decided to apply for a US Graduate Visa. He was always fascinated by all things American, and has had a keen interest in American politics for many years.

In September, Richard – known to his friends as ‘Dicky’ – moved to Washington DC, the home of American politics. He worked initially as an intern for the IDFA, who are a dairy lobbyist group, but now serves as an intern to Republican Congressman Alex Mooney of West Virginia (2nd District).

Richard has described the job as a fantastic opportunity to learn about the workings of political offices.

Amazingly, he managed to secure the job via online application; and his knowledge of American history and politics in the subsequent interview convinced the Congressman to give him the job, as Richard was able to quote facts about West Virginian history.

Congressman Mooney then invited Richard to accompany him to Iowa, for the Republican Caucuses, in order to support Ted Cruz, who the Congressman is endorsing. Richard was delighted to be asked.

“Although the fifteen-hour drive was exhausting, it was well worth it” he says.

He describes reaching Iowa late on Friday evening, the night before the rally. The next morning Richard was brought to Ted Cruz’s headquarters, which are located outside Des Moines. Shortly after Richard arrived at the office, conservative political pundit Glenn Beck arrived as a special guest.

Glenn Beck proceeded to speak glowingly of Ted Cruz, and produced a compass which he claimed belonged to George Washington in his youth.

Then Mr Beck enquired as to who had travelled the furthest, and was greeted by a slew of shouts. But when Richard’s friend Kevin shouted that Richard was from Ireland, Mr Beck had found his winner.

Richard described what happened next as both surreal and overwhelming:

“I was brought up to the centre of the room where Mr Beck let me hold George Washington’s compass and told me to feel the thumb imprint on the compass. I felt overwhelmed by the moment and that I did not deserve to get this experience as most of the people in the room have campaigned and worked for the Republicans for decades whereas I had just arrived.”

Amazingly, Richard’s luck continued, and on Sunday night - after a speech in Des Moines – he had the opportunity to meet Ted Cruz, along with the other representatives from West Virginia, and was even involved in a group photo with the Texas senator.

He spent the remainder of his time in Iowa canvassing door to door for Ted Cruz, as well as calling up voters.  Richard described Ted Cruz himself as “an interesting candidate”, and cites Cruz’s degrees from Harvard and Yale as evidence of his intelligence.

Richard believes that superior organizational skills, staff and canvassing on Cruz’s part led to his surprise victory over trump in Iowa, and believes that Cruz could succeed Obama in the White House:

“He has a very real possibility of being the next president of the US and will not be put off by pundits saying he is too extreme as his victory to become a senator in Texas was also said to be highly unlikely.”

Amazingly, Richard later discovered that someone else had travelled even further than he, when he met a Romanian woman who travelled to support Cruz.

It seems that the compass has been on a longer journey than either of them!