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Meet the young campaign whiz who helped oust Eric Cantor

Zachary Werrell helped guide Tea Party favorite Dave Brat to one of the biggest upsets in American political history, with Brat claiming victory against House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Virginia Republican primary last week. Chip Reid reports.
23-year-old campaign manager who helped oust Eric Cantor 04:21

Zachary Werrell helped guide Dave Brat to one of the biggest political upsets in American history, with Brat stunning Washington by ousting House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a primary last week, reports CBS News' Chip Reid.

Brat, a Tea Party favorite, has since hired a new campaign manager. After many grueling 20-hour days, the 23-year-old campaign whiz who lost 25 pounds during the primary campaign said he simply needed a break.

One week after handing Cantor a humiliating defeat, Werrell says it still hasn't fully sunk in.

After defeating Eric Cantor, Dave Brat hits the campaign trail 01:12

He wasn't even a year out of Haverford College when he received a call asking him to help unseat one of the most powerful men in Congress. After a job interview at a Panera restaurant, Werrell was given the keys to David Brat's shoestring campaign.

"We had three people working in the same space, and then volunteers coming," Werrell said. "It wasn't this machine, establishment machine kind of political campaign. It was the people who were doing it."

The campaign was vastly outspent, yet still won with 56 percent of the vote. It was hailed as the political upset of the century, but that victory came with a price.

The self-described libertarian's social media accounts were scowered for controversial statements. One blogger called him a "smug baby" whose Facebook page was a "cesspool of contrarian B.S." And when those posts started disappearing, it didn't go unnoticed.

"The night of the election, I had about a bazillion notifications, so I just took all my social media down," Werrell said.

"What exactly were you trying to say about Trayvon Martin and abortion?" Reid asked.

"What I was seeing was -- people are calling for -- 'You've got to get George! He's gotta be guilty of something! You gotta get him! You gotta get him!' And on the flipside, they're for what I see as murder."



"Would it be fair to say, at least politically, that sometimes you're an angry young man?" Reid asked.

Republicans in disarray after Eric Cantor's stunning defeat 08:31

"I don't think angry. My goal is always to stimulate discussion, and after learning what I've learned doing this race, I would never ever consider using the same rhetoric ever again, to start a discussion," Werrell said.

The searing experience, he said, is part of the reason he doesn't want work for Brat in Washington -- if he wins the congressional seat in November.

"I try to stay humble and all that stuff, and then the name calling because they don't agree with me on some issues, it really irritates me. And that irritates the American people too. We're sick of it!" Werrell said.

He knows how to run a campaign and win, and he might run for office himself at some point.

"It's not something I'm ruling out. I used to be much more enthusiastic about running for office until (I saw) politics from the inside," Werell said, laughing.

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