Political strategists, C-SPAN political editor to discuss 'Road to the White House'

October 13, 2015  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Top Democratic and Republican political strategists and the senior political editor from C-SPAN will participate in an Oct. 26 Purdue University forum titled "Road to the White House: Top Political Playmakers Share Secrets."

The event, which is organized by the Purdue Institute for Civic Communication (PICC), is 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the Purdue Memorial Union South Ballroom. A reception will immediately follow in the same location until 7:30 p.m., and both events are free and open to the public.

"It won't be the first time that the two strategists, Democrat Stephanie Cutter and Republican Russ Schriefer, have crossed paths," said Ambassador Carolyn Curiel, executive director of PICC and a clinical professor in the Brian Lamb School of Communication. "We're glad they are bringing their knowledge and their war of words to Purdue."

Cutter is a veteran of the Democratic presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and John Kerry and a deputy communication director in the Bill Clinton White House. She also has served as a host for the CNN show Crossfire. In 2012, Politico referred to Cutter as Obama's "one woman rapid response team."

Schriefer has worked for six of the last seven presidential campaigns for Republicans, including for Mitt Romney in 2012, as well as for George W. Bush in 2004. Schriefer is credited with the political ad that showed Bush's 2004 opponent John Kerry windsurfing, with the tagline "whichever way the wind blows."

After Kerry lost his bid for the presidency, Cutter was quoted in the Washington Post saying about the ad, "It very simply encapsulated what they had already driven into people's minds, that John Kerry was a flip-flopper who couldn't be trusted. I'm more upset we gave them the opportunity than that they took it."

Moderating the discussion will be Steve Scully, senior executive producer and political editor from C-SPAN. Scully is a regular host of the Washington Journal and is sometimes featured on John Oliver's HBO program Last Week Tonight as the "most patient man on television."

"It is important to study the past if you try to understand the future," Scully said. "This 2016 campaign has already seen its share of twists and turns, and the voters haven't even cast a single ballot. Russell Schriefer and Stephanie Cutter are veteran campaign operatives who will be able to offer keen insights and stories based on their first-hand experiences in the 2012 race, while also shining a light on what we might expect in this current race for the White House."

The focus of the forum will be the 2016 presidential race with its wide field of candidates and share of controversy. Of the campaign, Cutter said, "If 2016 has taught us anything so far, it's expect the unexpected. Up is down. Down is up. And we're only just getting started." 

And Schriefer said, "In the most interesting presidential campaign in our lifetime - all bets are off."

This is the third forum the PICC has hosted so far this academic year.

The PICC is a university-wide, nonpartisan initiative for applied and experiential undergraduate learning in the fields of issues policy, citizenship and communication at Purdue University, made possible by the Daniels Fund of Denver and a partnership with C-SPAN, the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network. Curiel is a former Clinton presidential speechwriter and U.S. Ambassador who teaches in the Brian Lamb School of Communication. Students in any major are eligible to participate in the PICC.

Purdue News Service: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Sources: Carolyn Curiel, PICC executive director, PICC@purdue.edu

Katie Cahill, PICC interim academic coordinator, kachill@purdue.edu

Ben Baker, PICC student assistant, baker174@purdue.edu 

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