On Monday, November 28, 2011, nearly 100 attendees, including several foreign students interested in the American political system, gathered in Copley Formal Lounge to get a preview of the 2012 election. The political directors of the Republican and Democratic National Committees were on hand to represent each party. Both had an hour to give a brief and take questions.
Bradley Blakeman, Semester in Washington Program faculty member, introduced the chairman of the Georgetown University College Republicans, Joe Knowles, who gave a short intro on Rick Wiley. Mr. Wiley has been the RNC political director since February 2011.
Mr. Wiley began by describing his early political career which was spent working in state-level politics. He said that the 2008 election was unique in that there was no vice-president running for office or president running for a second term, so he jumped on the opportunity to work for Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign. He described the current political climate, listed key states and races, the study of local and state elections, but focused on the big picture and the RNC’s commitment to education and fundraising.
After a short intermission, Mr. Blakeman introduced Mark Stern, events director of the Georgetown University College Democrats. Mr. Stern spoke briefly on Jeffrey Lerner’s experience, noting that prior to his appointment at the DNC he was communications director to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.
Mr. Lerner said he is expecting a close election and the DNC is watching the Republican primary. He used a slideshow to present objectives for the Obama campaign with its focus on the grassroots and discussed how President Obama is fairing in state polling.
There was discussion from both sides of how to get the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency and both mentioned how the launch of Super PACS to aid candidates and advertising earlier than has been typical in the past is affecting the scope of political races. The question and answer sessions were lively, with many challenging questions from the crowd. Both political directors were frank and open, and both expressed a deep commitment to and enthusiasm for their work.
This program was presented by the Semester in Washington Program, in conjunction with the Georgetown College Democrats and the Georgetown College Republicans.
The Semester in Washington Program allows undergraduate students to study at Georgetown while participating in internships around the nation's capital.