Thursday, February 7, 2013

Debate Excitement Descends on Campus

Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein met with student
 reporters at Hofstra Hall.
When the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced on October 31, 2011, that it had chosen Hofstra University for the site of its October 16, 2012, debate, Hofstra became one of only two schools chosen to host back-to-back presidential debates. Those who initially thought Hofstra could rely on the same plans used for the 2008 presidential debate between then-Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain soon realized this will not be the case. The 2012 debate presents some new – albeit exciting – challenges for Hofstra. For one, this debate features a sitting president, and with that comes a variety of additional staffing issues and heightened security. Second, the debate will be in the "town meeting" format, requiring a completely different stage setting as well as the need to accommodate citizens selected by the CPD to take part in the event.

What will stay the same is that the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex will be the venue for the debate, and the adjoining Mack Physical Education Center will serve as the media center, again hosting hundreds of journalists from around the world and all the major networks, and providing support services for the CPD.

At the time Hofstra administrators learned that the University had again been selected as a debate venue, Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz said, "I am absolutely delighted that the Commission has chosen to return to Hofstra University. ... I am so pleased that another generation of Hofstra students will be able to witness history and become involved in an active and meaningful way."

President Rabinowitz also announced that David S. Mack, Hofstra alumnus (Class of 1967) and secretary of the Board of Trustees, has made a commitment to help underwrite the cost of hosting the 2012 presidential debate. "The generosity of David Mack allows us to host an event of this magnitude, benefiting thousands of students and showcasing our great university, without using tuition dollars. We are grateful for his leadership and commitment to Hofstra and the democratic process."

Just as Hofstra held a series of lectures, conferences, performances and exhibitions called Debate '08 four years ago, the University has presented a new slate of events under the heading Debate 2012: Pride, Politics & Policy. The goal is to provide students, faculty and the entire community with access to the newsmakers, scholars and policymakers who have unique insight and knowledge of the American political system. The Debate 2012 events will help students become knowledgeable about the election and engage them in the political process.

Dr. Meena Bose, professor of political science and Hofstra's Peter S. Kalikow Chair in Presidential Studies, said, "Students should participate, because their voice matters. That was so clear in 2008 where the youth turnout was critical to the presidential election results. They are the future. The decisions the next president will make, whether it be President Obama or another president, will affect their lives directly."

Spring 2012 Highlights

Cory Booker gave an address titles "How to Change the
World With Your Bare Hands" on February 29.
Cory Booker on Community Service ...

On February 29 Newark Mayor Cory Booker was the keynote speaker for Hofstra's annual P.R.I.D.E. Week, extolling the value of community service, leadership and individual empowerment. His address also kicked off Debate 2012: Pride, Politics & Policy.

He told a Hofstra Video Productions news crew, "... we have real problems in this country, real challenges, and I think the core of the country that is going to help drive change will be young people in places like this. Hofstra students have a tradition of that kind of activism, and it needs to continue. At the end of the day you are either a spectator or you're on the field, and democracy is not a spectator sport."

40 Years After Watergate ...

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the reporters who broke the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post and set the standard for modern investigative journalism, reunited at Hofstra to talk about the 40th anniversary of the story that forced President Richard Nixon to resign. Their lecture, "40 Years After Watergate: A Conversation with Woodward and Bernstein," at the John Cranford Adams Playhouse, addressed how the Watergate investigation affected them not only professionally, but also personally.

At the onset of the lecture, Mr. Woodward remembered that when asked by Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham if they would ever be able to uncover who was behind the Watergate break-in, he initially answered, "Never." This was not what she wanted to hear.

Carl Bernstein said, "It looked like the answer might be 'never' at the time, because the Nixon White House had been very successful in portraying Watergate as a third rate burglary, as if this was an isolated event about a bugging in this one building, when – in fact – what all our stories were leading up to was that this was an unprecedented, unconstitutional, illegal campaign of political espionage and sabotage against the president's opponents in the other party."

(L to r) School of Communication Dean Evan Cornog,
 John Heilemann, Steve Schmidt, Mark Halperin, and
Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz at an event focusing
on the book and HBO movie Game Change.
Authors and Political Advisor on Game Change ...

On March 29 John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, authors of the international bestseller Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, and Steve Schmidt, senior advisor to Senator John McCain's presidential campaign, discussed the book, the HBO film based on the book, and the historic 2008 race for the White House.

John Heilemann is the national affairs editor for New York magazine and Mark Halperin, editor-atlarge and senior political analyst for TIME, covers politics, elections and government for the magazine and Steve Schmidt is a strategic counselor to business leaders and major corporations across the U.S. and global economies. Schmidt served as a senior advisor to Senator John McCain's presidential campaign and before that, as campaign manager for the re-election of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006.

wolf Blitzer brought The Situation Room to the John Cranford Adams Playhouse
Wolf Blitzer brought The Situation Room to
 he John Cranford Adams Playhouse.
Playhouse Became His Situation Room

Wolf Blitzer, anchor of CNN's The Situation Room, spoke at Hofstra University on March 29 and presented a behind-the-scenes look at news gathering and his fast-paced daily political news show.
Mr. Blitzer said after his presentation, "I love politics. I'm a political news junkie, and I have been my whole life, since I was a little boy growing up in Buffalo, NY. For me, it was never a question if I would read the newspapers or watch the news on television. I always loved it. ... I just think the elected officials – local, state and federal – the impact they have on our lives, our day-to-day lives – is so enormous. We all have a responsibility to watch what's going on and to get involved if we want to, because the stakes are enormous."

Former NAACP chairman Julian Bond with Hofstra students
at the Guthart Cultural Center Theater on March 29.
Civil Rights Leader on "From Alabama to Obama" ...

Julian Bond, former NAACP chairman of the board and professor of history at the University of Virginia, presented a talk titled "From Alabama to Obama: A Critical View of the Civil Rights Movement." With both humor and sensitivity, Mr. Bond talked about the civil rights movement, about being a student of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and even about the Treyvon Martin case, which was quickly gaining national exposure at the time of Mr. Bond's visit to campus.

The talk was presented by the Hofstra chapter of NAACP, the Pride Network and Hofstra's Debate 2012 programming. Additional sponsors included the Hofstra Cultural Center and the Office of Multicultural & International Student Programs.

Change in the White House? ...

Hofstra's Peter S. Kalikow Center for the Study of the American Presidency, in cooperation with the Hofstra Cultural Center, presented Change in the White House? Comparing the George W. Bush and Barack Obama Presidencies. The keynote panel, titled "Decision 2012: How Have the Bush and Obama Presidencies Shaped the Race for the White House?" featured Howard B. Dean III and Edward J. Rollins, Kalikow Center senior presidential fellows, and Lord Stewart Wood of Anfield, senior policy adviser to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown (2007-2010).

Visit for the most up-to-date information on programming related to the presidential debate and the upcoming election.

The current schedule includes:

  • September 12: Christina Romer, former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers for President Barack Obama
  • September 19: Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush
  • September 24: Political campaign professionals Susan Del Percio and Basil Smikle, Jr. on "Spot Watch 2012: Political Ads and Strategy"
  • October 2: New York University Political Campaign Professor Charlton McIlwain on the depiction of race, ethnicity and gender in political ads
  • October 10: MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews
  • October 11: Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary under President Barack Obama, and Karl Rove, senior advisor and deputy chief of staff to former President George W. Bush
  • October 11: Brooks Jackson, director, on "Fact Checking the 2012 Ad Season"


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