Rosie Smolowitz says she plans to run for president of the United States – in 2044.
That’s what’s on this Charlotte 10-year-old’s to-do list, somewhere between studying for tests and curing cancer.
Rosie intends to be the first Jewish woman president.
“I have a lot of solutions for the problems that we have in our country,” Rosie said. “And I don’t want them to just sit there unsolved; I want to solve them.”
Rosie has written letters to mayors, governors and President Barack Obama, suggesting solutions to local and national issues, like the installation of sidewalks, recycling incentive programs and increasing teachers’ salaries.
When Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools replaced a playground at her school, Collinswood Language Academy, the students weren’t satisfied with the equipment. Rosie took action.
“The playground was sort of babyish,” she said. “So I made a petition and I went to all the grades and got people to sign it and then I sent it to the (CMS administrator).”
And the administration listened. A new section was added to the playground that included a more challenging jungle gym and rock wall.
Rosie has been inspired by her role models, Golda Meir, the first female prime minister of Israel, and former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
“(Roosevelt) did a really good job helping us through the Great Depression,” she said. “He found a lot of people jobs.”
To be a good president, Rosie said candidates need to be good listeners, smart, calm and patient.
“A lot of people that I’ve talked to have joked that they don't like either candidate (in the 2016 election) and they wish they could vote for me now instead of in 2044,” she said.
Mayor for the day
Last fall, Rosie’s mother, Michelle Smolowitz, heard about Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s Nickelodeon show, “All In with Cam Newton.” She applied, and after a few phone and Skype interviews, Rosie was chosen in January.
A crew from Nickelodeon arrived at the Smolowitz’s home on April 26. From there, the entire family – including siblings, Stella, 12, and Ben, 7, her mother and her father, Pete – went to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, where they met Mayor Jennifer Roberts and Newton.
On the show, Newton helps kids achieve their dreams by pairing them with a mentor. Shadowing Roberts allowed Rosie to get a taste of politics.
Rosie was mayor of Charlotte for the day.
She toured an after-school program at Behailu Academy in NoDa and gave a press conference with Roberts. Roberts gave Rosie advice, such as how to answer questions from reporters. (Rosie’s parents are both former Observer reporters.)
Rosie said Newton was funny and nice to everyone. Throughout the day, he took goofy selfies with the Smolowitz family and fist-bumped Rosie’s brother, Ben.
“That night we were all saying, that was a fairy tale,” Pete Smolowitz said.
But the fairy tale wasn’t over.
Miss Smolowitz goes to Washington
At the end of the day in Charlotte, the crew said there was a very small chance the family would be able to travel to Washington, D.C. for the second half of the episode.
In May, Rosie’s mom received a call. They were going to meet first lady Michelle Obama.
Rosie’s parents kept the trip a surprise until they picked the kids up from school early May 23 to drive to Washington. The next day, the family visited monuments before heading to the White House at 3 p.m. for a 5:30 appointment. (Security took two hours, Rosie said.)
After a tour of the White House, they met Newton and the first lady in the Rose Garden. Rosie and Newton asked questions and Obama offered Rosie some advice.
“One thing she said that really helped her and Cam was to always follow your dreams,” Rosie said. “She never thought that she’d be the first lady of the United States, and Cam never thought he’d be one of the best and most popular football players on the Panthers.”
The first lady was supposed to have only 10 minutes with Rosie and Newton, but she stayed an hour. Obama asked Rosie to invite her back to the White House once Rosie becomes president.
It’ll be a few years until she gets to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., but in the meantime, Rosie plans to run for mayor, then governor.
She doesn’t have a campaign slogan picked out yet, but she does have a motto:
“Dream big, then do it.”
Jane Little: 704-358-5336; @janelittle26
Rosie’s episode of “All In with Cam Newton” will air at 8 p.m. Friday, July 29 on Nickelodeon.