Brazile, Christie to discuss '08 elections

By Matthew Stone

Donna Brazile, who managed Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, and Ron Christie, a former aide to both Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush, will appear on campus Thursday, Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m. in the Hill Ballroom in Kagin Commons.As voters in New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada and other states vying for early-primary attention gear up to select Republican and Democratic nominees for the 2008 presidential election, pundits are expecting that this time around the candidates’ race and gender will be more prominent in voters’ minds than in past election cycles.

The presence of the first viable female (Sen. Hillary Clinton) and non-white (Sen. Barack Obama) contenders on the Democratic side of the race make this election one of the most unique in American history.

Just how important race, gender and class are in the election equation is the subject of an upcoming on-campus debate that will bring Brazile face-to-face with Christie.

Program Board lecture coordinator Brittany Lewis ’09, who is organizing the event, bills it as a debate between “partisan titans,” which comes at a time when there is a “real possibility of electing a president who isn’t white and male,” she said.

The discussion will take the form of an Oxford-style debate, in which students present can participate by asking questions of the panelists.

“I feel like students really like interaction,” Lewis said. “I wanted it to be interactive with a really compelling topic.”

The debate will begin with a guiding question: How important should race, gender, and class be in electing the next president of the United States?

Lewis said she intentionally chose African-American speakers for the event so they could speak to particular experiences that set their political work apart from that of white colleagues.

“As a black woman, [Brazile] can speak to both her gender and race,” Lewis said. “Ron Christie, as a black Republican, adds some interesting complexity.”

Brazile is a political commentator on CNN, ABC News, and National Public Radio. She became the first African-American woman to lead a major presidential campaign in 2000.

Christie served as an aide in the Bush administration until 2004. His book “Black in the White House” was published in Jan. 2006. Christie regularly contributes to The Hill newspaper’s Pundit Blog.