Upload new images. The image library for this site will open in a new window.
Upload new documents. The document library for this site will open in a new window.
Show web part zones on the page. Web parts can be added to display dynamic content such as calendars or photo galleries.
Choose between different arrangements of page sections. Page layouts can be changed even after content has been added.
Move this whole section down, swapping places with the section below it.
Check for and fix problems in the body text. Text pasted in from other sources may contain malformed HTML which the code cleaner will remove.
Accordion feature turned off, click to turn on.
Accordion featurd turned on, click to turn off.
Change the way the image is cropped for this page layout.
Cycle through size options for this image or video.
Align the media panel to the right/left in this section.
Open the image pane in this body section. Click in the image pane to select an image from the image library.
Open the video pane in this body section. Click in the video pane to embed a video. Click ? for step-by-step instructions.
Remove the image from the media panel. This does not delete the image from the library.
Remove the video from the media panel.
Pictured in the final National Agenda "Road to
the Presidency" event of fall 2012 are (from left) Ralph Begleiter,
David Plouffe and Steve Schmidt.
2:16 p.m., Nov. 15, 2012--Two University of Delaware alumni from
across the aisle – Democrat David Plouffe and Republican Steve Schmidt –
offered their views on the 2012 election during a National Agenda “Road
to the Presidency” presentation on Wednesday in Mitchell Hall.
Their verdict was that the electorate offered a mandate for the two
parties to work together to solve important problems facing the nation,
including the “fiscal cliff,” and that the Republican Party must
consider significant changes to attract support in a changing America.
Plouffe is a senior adviser to President Barack Obama and Schmidt is
vice chairman for public affairs of Edelman, one of the world’s largest
public relations firms, who has served as a senior adviser for a number
of GOP candidates, including 2008 presidential nominee John McCain. He
has been seen frequently on television as an analyst for NBC and MSNBC.
The two Blue Hens were greeted enthusiastically by a large audience
as key players in making UD the “epicenter” of national politics, and
offered a lively and entertaining take on the election.
Plouffe said it is important not to “overlearn” the lessons of an
election just over and that while the demographic makeup of the winning
coalition – Obama captured a significant percentage of the vote among
Latinos, African Americans, women and younger voters – is justifiably
getting a lot of attention, he believes the race was decided just as
much on policies. When it came time to cast ballots, he said the voters
had more trust in Obama on issues such as the economy, education, the
environment and social issues.
If there is one mandate for both parties, Plouffe said, “it is simply
a mandate to work together” and he is hopeful this is a moment in
history where the leaders of the two sides can put aside their
differences to focus on the needs of the people.
Schmidt said Republicans should not underestimate the magnitude of
the Democratic victory, quoting McCain who in turn quoted Mao Zedong:
“It’s always darkest before it’s completely black.”
And, Schmidt said, demographics is a huge problem. From the 40
percent of the Latino vote captured by Republican George W. Bush in
2004, the GOP has being steadily going downhill. “You are seeing the
Republican policy of antagonizing the fastest growing group in America
paying off,” he said to laughter.
Beyond the presidential race, he lamented the fact that Republicans
have lost five U.S. Senate seats in the last two election cycles by
putting up unqualified candidates, including Christine O’Donnell in
Delaware in 2010.
Where conservatism is in fact a serious governing philosophy,
“conservatism has become synonymous in the voters’ minds with absolute
looniness,” Schmidt said, making it difficult “to get to first base”
with many voters.
For change to occur, Schmidt said it is vital that Republican leaders
stand up to what he called the “conservative entertainment complex” –
the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaughs who make a lot of money pushing
“We have a lot of soul searching to do as a political party,” Schmidt
said, adding that the GOP has not only a demographic problem but also a
message problem and a policy problem.
“It may be that Republicans have to lose another election or two
before thy figure out that they have to meet voters where they are at
rather than the other way around,” he said.
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
David Plouffe discusses the 2012 election.
Ralph Begleiter, director of UD’s Center for Political Communication
who moderated the discussion, asked both Plouffe and Schmidt about
moments – good and bad – that defined the campaign.
Plouffe discussed the abysmal first debate Obama had with Republican
challenger Mitt Romney, which energized the GOP. “For us in the Barack
Obama experience, we always have our moments of near death,” he joked,
adding that the campaign simply “did not execute” despite an
understanding that Romney was a strong debater.
Schmidt was asked about Romney’s infamous “47 percent” video, noting
that in a close race it is unwise to write off that large a percentage
of the electorate – particularly when many in that 47 percent are part
of the Republican base.
He said it showed a fundamental misunderstanding of the country
Romney wanted to lead, adding, “It was an awful statement and he paid an
awful price for it.”
Steve Schmidt discusses the 2012 election.
Schmidt said the Republicans are behind the Democrats technologically
in such areas as targeting, data mining and analysis and promoting
voter turnout. Where Plouffe said the Obama campaign included dozens of
engineers to insure that its computer systems worked properly to get out
the vote, Schmidt pointed out that the Republicans had a small team and
their system crashed on election day.
The Democrats were widely hailed for the use of email in the 2008
election – email, Plouffe said, is now “fossilized” – and this year
turned to social media, in cases using Facebook to encourage voters in
far flung states to reach out and make sure friends in battleground
states such as Ohio had cast their ballots.
Social media has a huge impact, Schmidt said, because campaigns have
lost the ability to control the message top down. He likened running
campaigns in the social media age to navigating a “raging river.”
The Twitterverse very quickly develops a consensus on what is
happening, Plouffe said, pointing to the verdict on the first debate.
“Within 10 minutes, the ‘referees’ had decided.”
Plouffe added that “video is king.” Where investigative reports by
influential newspapers once carried great weight in campaigns, he said
that in these times a story without a video component is less likely to
go viral and so does not gain traction.
Both Plouffe and Schmidt agreed that the advent of the super PACs
pumping vast sums of money into the election will have an impact.
Because most super PACs are ideological in nature, they tend to weaken
parties and candidates and polarize the electorate, Schmidt said.
“It’s an uncontrollable beast,” Plouffe said, adding that the people hurt most are those politicians who seek common ground.
Schmidt said he believes the solution is to allow the large
contributions but that they be made to a campaign committee and that
there be full and immediate disclosure.
Asked whether Hurricane Sandy, and the appearance by UD alumnus and
Republican governor of New Jersey Chris Christie with Obama, had
impacted the presidential race, Plouffe said no. He said Democratic
polling showed no movement in the electorate going into the storm and no
movement coming out.
Plouffe said he was puzzled that Christie would take heat from
Republicans about the appearance, saying his responsibility as governor
was to do his best to assist the people of New Jersey at a difficult
time. “It says something when a sitting Democratic president and
Republican governor being civil to each other is news,” he said.
Schmidt said Christie is a “dynamic leader” who took an oath to the
people of New Jersey and he should be applauded for his actions. He
added any Republican backlash against Christie, a possible presidential
candidate in 2016, could “take off the table one of the solutions to the
problems we have talked about.”
Asked for predictions, both Plouffe and Schmidt said they believe
Christie will run in 2016. Plouffe would not comment on possible
Democratic candidates, but Schmidt said he did not think fellow UD
alumnus Vice President Joe Biden would run but that Hilary Clinton
Article by Neil Thomas
Photos by Duane Perry