Kyle Kashuv, a 16-year-old conservative who is a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, spent a whirlwind 24 hours in Washington this week meeting with senators, first lady Melania Trump — and, surprisingly, President Donald Trump.
"It's insane," Kyle told The Washington Post on Wednesday at a restaurant in the city's downtown. "This has never been my dream.
"I never really wanted to get into politics," he added. "The entire thing has been surreal."
Kyle was noticed on Twitter, which he joined two days after the Feb. 14 Parkland shooting, and "fought for the middle ground," the Post reports.
His second tweet was "a thank you to Hillary Clinton for defending Parkland students against smears."
Kyle, however, does not believe gun control is the best way to end school violence — and he was not in the third building at Stoneman Douglas when the shots were fired.
Though he has never shot off a gun, Kyle was on the bus with Parkland students to Tallahassee to lobby legislators on improved school-safety measures.
"The initial movement, in its purest form, was amazing," Kyle told the Post. "It got corrupted because now it's represented as anti-gun and anti-NRA: 'Boycott this, boycott that.'
"It's detracting from the actual discussions."
He does believe, however, in increasing school security and expanding background checks.
Kyle is also developing an app called ReachOut for students who are struggling emotionally to communicate with others at school.
Michael Gruen, a New York marketer, saw Kyle's tweets and urged by conservative columnist Ben Shapiro to bring him to Washington.
"As a conservative myself — and, more importantly, as a human — I saw somebody who actually [cared]," Gruen told the Post. "I saw a kid who was not being recognized, for whatever reason, and I want to help anyone who cares."
Kyle's parents, who emigrated from Israel in the 1990s, paid for their son's trip to the nation's capital.
Once on Capitol Hill, Kyle met with several Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch.
He also squared off with two Democrats: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy.
By 2 p.m. Thursday, Melania Trump had met with Kyle in the White House Green Room.
They talked for about 30 minutes about mental health and the well-being of students, the Post reports.
As she walked him out of White House, they went through the Oval Office.
Minutes later, President Trump walked in after meeting with video-game executives.
"Where's Kyle?" Trump asked.
"How are you, Mr. President?" Kyle responded.
"They shook hands, started trading pleasantries and took a seat," the Post reports. "Trump asked about his classmates. Kyle talked about his app idea.
"It was over in five minutes."
Kyle tweeted about his trip, as did others about meeting him:
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