Former presidential speechwriters to speak at Purdue

September 8, 2015  

David Kusnet

David Kusnet 
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Two former presidential speechwriters will visit Purdue as part of the first forum by the Purdue Institute for Civic Communication.

David Kusnet, who wrote for President Bill Clinton, and John McConnell, writer for President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, will discuss their work 6-7 p.m. on Sept. 17 in Stewart Center's Fowler Hall. The talk is titled "Writing for the President when the Nation is in Crisis.” The event, which is organized by PICC students, is free and open to the public.

Kusnet served as the chief speechwriter for Clinton at the White House and during the 1992 campaign. Kusnet also has written speeches for presidential candidates Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis, members of Congress and leaders in labor and private and public organizations. Kusnet has published five books on social, political and economic issues. His book on political communication, "Speaking American," became the basis of the Clinton message in the 1992 campaign. Currently, Kusnet is a principal and senior writer for Podesta Group, based in Washington, D.C. and he serves on the PICC advisory team.

"I have been very impressed with the students in the Purdue Institute for Civic Communication program when I've spoken with them in person and by satellite," Kusnet said. "I'm really looking forward to speaking with Purdue students on campus."

John McConnell

John McConnell 
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McConnell served as the deputy assistant to Bush and assistant to vice president Dick Cheney. McConnell's work included notable speeches in response to crises, including Bush's address to the Joint Session of Congress following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, remarks after the tragedy of the space shuttle Columbia, and the eulogy for President Ronald Reagan. McConnell's first job in politics was on the staff of Vice President Dan Quayle.

"I'm looking forward to meeting as many students as possible, sharing some of my experiences in politics and government, and encouraging them to get involved in public affairs as I did," McConnell said.

Carolyn Curiel, who also wrote for Clinton at the White House, will moderate the discussion with students from her Presidential Communication class. Curiel is a former U.S. ambassador and journalist and is PICC's founder and executive director.

"As the election season kicks into higher gear, we are especially excited to have a discussion with two of the best political communicators in the country," said Curiel, a clinical professor in the Brian Lamb School of Communication.

PICC is a nonpartisan initiative for applied and experiential undergraduate learning in the fields of issues policy, citizenship and communication, and it is made possible by the Daniels Fund of Denver and a partnership with C-SPAN, the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network. Students in any major are eligible to participate in PICC. 

Purdue News Service: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723,

Sources: Carolyn Curiel, 

Julie Wise, PICC manager,

Katie Cahill, PICC teaching assistant, 

Liz Bitzer, student assistant, 

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