The Daily Grind….Speech me!


Another day, another early morning but that is the nature of the political world. The day was shorter than yesterday, involving more emphasis on speeches and less on the logistics and minutia of The Washington Center internship.

For starters, there was a two person discussion between former Congressmen Mickey Edwards who now serves as Faculty Director for the Aspen Institute. He was joined by Dr. Meena Bose, a Resident Scholar of Hofstra University. The two engaged in a delightful overview of politics, particularly pertaining to perceptions of both President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney from the point of view of the “average voter”. I found them to be incredibly insightful and spoke from a place of intellectual integrity. They also had great advice, particularly when students inquired for it during question portion of the program.

They provided students with the not only surface analysis, but divulged deeply into the political science aspect of presidential conventions. Meaning they stressed the purpose of why the candidates would need to reintroduce themselves, despite years in the public eye. Particularly when they compared the change in voters’ moods between 2008 and 2012, and why there is a change at all.

The second, and most likely the most interesting speaker so far was former CNN journalist Aaron Brown. He is a three time Emmy award winning journalist who notably reported on the September 11th terrorist attack on his first day at CNN.

He was funny, engaging and most importantly, honest. He definitely came across jaded. He clearly has had experiences with journalism (and considering the joke about former President Bill Clinton), his experiences left a bitter taste in his mouth. However, his background with some print journalism and rumor has it (according to fellow interns and a quick Google search after his speech), being pushed out for Anderson Cooper, I could sympathize. He made a point to stress the importance of real news being superior to the personal interest stories involving presidential politics.

His speech, while not as orderly as some of the others, definitely made an impact. You could essentially hear the hush in the room when he concluded with the words “The most likeable candidate wins. Period. End of story.”

While some, particularly students who were Republicans expressed after the speech during a group gathering were offended (he basically infers essentially that Obama would win), no one seemed seemed shocked by the comment. It became clear that people were taken aback that someone dared to  express this sentiment out loud. Particularly when the interns are so close to the actual convention. Some of the students will be working personally with the Republican National Committee. I wonder how much Brown’s comments will weigh on them. Does it make the cause feel worthless because they are spending part of their summer working for a cause that to a veteran journalist is essentially a waste because Mitt Romney is perceived to be a stiff?

A few students, who I spoke to, particularly my roommate during the trip, a moderate Republican respected his opinion but felt that he was a “Debbie Downer” for pointing out Mitt Romney’s likeability problem.  However, for the Democratic leaning interns, his comments seemed right on the money.


After a lot of heartburn and hearty laughs, Brown wrapped up his speech with a question portion. The scene that unfolded felt very similar to one in the new HBO series, The Newsroom in which the protagonist, Will McAvoy goes off on a tangent, completely decimating a student for asking a vague question.

Suffice to say the student who asked the question was intimidated and will not be asking any questions any time soon.

The next speaker, Lee Nelson, was very different. Formal, armed with facts and statistics about the real estate market and Tampa, he was former alum of the Washington Center Presidential Seminar. He was kind of dry, however very knowledgeable about the Floridian economy. But I guess being the head of Real Estate Group in Shutts & Bowen LLP will give you a lot of insight. He was very precise about how the convention would directly affect the local economy for the better.

So all in all he was interesting from a factual standpoint, but not as entertaining as Aaron Brown.

All in all, another very interesting day…Stay tuned for more.

Tomorrow, more insight on the social scene of Tampa and what it is like being an intern. 



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