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    Success of ‘going negative’ changes campaign strategies
    Obama vs. McCain: Campaign 2008
    September 10th, 2008 under Uncategorized. [ Comments: none ]

    This is the first program of our POTUS 44 - The Next President of the United States series, and features our 2009 Fall Semester Fellows-Joe Gaylord and Ray Strother.

    Wednesday, September 10, 2008 7:30p.m.

    Joe Gaylord is a top GOP strategist with special expertise in Congressional races, was one of the masterminds of the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994. As a top advisor to Newt Gingrich, he authored the Contract with America and helped his party retake control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years.

    Ray Strother is a legendary Democratic political consultant who has worked with candidates at every level; including Al Gore, Gary Hart, Lloyd Bentsen and Mary Landrieu. He also turned his reputation as the “Godfather of political consultants in the South” into a page-turning memoir called Falling Up: How A Redneck Helped Invent Political Consultants.   

    For more information about the Fall 2008 Dole Fellows please visit some of the following websites:  

    http://www.joegaylord.com/ ”Chesapeake Associates: Professional Campaign Consultants”

    http://www.strotherduffystrother.com/ “A Democtratic political consulting firm located in Washington, D.C”                              




    First Impressions of meeting with the President.
    January 23rd, 2008 under Uncategorized, Blog Program. [ Comments: none ]

    This is a previous post by John Donovan Milblogger, thedonovan.com

     Milblog program at the Dole Institute on January 29, 2008.


    President George W. Bush meeting with military bloggers in the Roosevelt Room at the White House, Friday, Sept. 14, 2007. White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian

    The sit down with President Bush was, I’ve got to note - fun.

    It was serious. He talked to us, and with us, not at us. And, unusual for the personality types that populate the blogging world - we listened. We got in our questions, and I think they were good ones, and the President made his points, which were a mixture of the thrust of his message this week and new (to me, anyway) stuff in response to our questions.

    Make no mistake - he knew we were going to generally be a receptive audience, and we were. The staff knew our blogs, and they knew that while some of us have not always been fans or happy with things as they are, they knew we were not going to storm the Bastille, either.

    I had a list of questions, most of which ended up being asked by others. So, as the other bloggers put up their posts, I’ll link to them, so you can both see what I was interested in, but let the relevant blogger run with the question and the answer. And I’ll put up a post about my question and his answer.

    The President acknowledged, so to speak, the rise of the blogosphere - which he seems to see as complementary to the MSM, a view to which I subscribe, as well. We’re another vector that people can use to disseminate or gather information - whether the MSM is gate-guarding it because of their biases, or simple economics. There are only so many air minutes, so many column inches, and the MSM is a business. They have to make editorial decisions.

    If anything, the blogs hearken back, really, to an earlier time in the growth of the Republic.

    We’re the “broadsides” of this era. As Larry Schwiekart and Michael Allen describe them in their book, A Patriot’s History of the United States (page 42):

    “…Americans’ literacy was widespread, but it was not deep or profound. Most folks read a little and not much more. In response, a new form of publishing arose to meet the demands of this vast, but minimally literate, populace: the newspaper. Early newspapers came in the form of broadsides, usually distributed and posted in the lobby of an inn or saloon where one of the more literate colonials would proceed to read a story aloud for the dining or drinking clientele. Others would chime in with editorial comments during the reading, making for a truly democratic and interactive forum.”

    That covers blogs pretty well, I think. Though there are some pretty deep and profound ones, and there are ones which are growing into news outlets that have many trappings of the MSM, as well. With their strengths and weaknesses.

    And today, the President just gave blogs some props.

    And while the venue may have held milblogs - it’s props for all bloggers who take their vocation or avocation seriously - and I think that’s true for blogs of the Left, Middle, and the Right, the Poliblogs and the Milblogs, and the harder-to-characterize blogs as well.

    And that’s a good thing - because I think that our greatest strength and contribution is: “Others would chime in with editorial comments during the reading, making for a truly democratic and interactive forum.”

    Sure, there’s trolls and scary places and people who don’t know argument from excrement - but if you have something to say, and create the environment, you can open a pub like Castle Argghhh! where others chime in, you can learn something, and even though you’re #1 in Google for “I bayoneted myself today” and you have an Outhouse Naming Contest, in America, you can still get invited to the White House to talk to the President.

    And that’s just cool.

    And Barney is one *fine* looking Scotty.

    And this is where I say that I wouldn’t have been sitting at that table today if it hadn’t been for Dusty, Bill, and the Denizen/nes of Argghhh! - because you guys make this worth doing for four years.

    Thank you all, very, very, much.

    There’s some other people I owe, as well, but I know they prefer to remain anonymous. Thank you, too. You know who you are.

    Observations From Iowa: 2 Days to Go Before the First Votes of 2008!
    January 2nd, 2008 under Uncategorized. [ Comments: none ]

    By Jonathan Earle
    Dole Institute Interim Director

    Some people go to Cancun during winter break, but I couldn’t resist a little political tourism in Iowa, four days in advance of the caucuses this Thursday, Jan. 3. My brother, ace political reporter for the New York Post, is pretty much embedded with the Clinton campaign, so I spent some time acting as his driver and sidekick. That’s why I spent so much time with the Clinton campaign.

    On the way back, I had to pull off the road during an unforecast blizzard – and who should greet me in the McDonald’s in Bethany, MO but Dole staffers Ryan Wing and Clarissa Unger, along with their colleague Jon Simon. All three were on the way to caucus for Obama in Ames, and they kindly shared their company and a nifty board game called Scotland Yard while we waited for the plows to catch up with the precipitation.

    Herewith are some of my observations from the Iowa trail. Enjoy!

    My day began at the mostly-black Corinthian Baptist Church in Des Moines, where I arrived late for the service, although not as late as Hillary, Chelsea, and former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. The Rev. Lee Zachary Maxey had to repeat the part of the service where parishioners meet and greet each other after the Clintons arrived, which gave more than a few worshipers a chance to get a snapshot and exchange some words with the Senator. She was invited to address the assembly, and she did – in a brief version of her stump speech. It was warmly received, and then…Clinton (and the press corps, which included national figures like the Today Show’s Meredith Vieira) left, before the sermon. My brother and I thought this might have been a faux pas, but it turns out Obama left after his remarks at the same church earlier in the month. Still, the deacon called her out a bit, remarking that “it was good to see all the dignitaries here…I wish they’d stayed a little longer.” It was great for this political tourist to be able to stick around and chat with some of the church members, many of whom told me they were first timers planning to caucus for Obama.

    Our next leg took us to the King’s Tower restaurant in Tama, which is unfortunately located on the Old Lincoln Highway, also known as Rt. 30. Clearly building I-80 (about 20 miles to the south) has put Tama’s best days squarely behind it. But the place had a good menu and copious portions. I left room for wild berry pie a-la-mode in nearby Toledo, where I talked to the waitresses about the now-famous incident this fall where Hillary Clinton supposedly stiffed a server at the Maid-Rite diner. The story made the rounds pretty quickly before being proven false (to Geoff Earle’s credit, his story from that day already had the correct information), but we got to the bottom of the scandal. Our 17-year-old server (who plans to caucus for Obama since she’ll be 18 before November ’08) told us a campaign staffer tipped with $100 bill to be divided among the staff – but one waitress bogarted the C-note and didn’t share. Ironically, the waitress who complained about Hillary’s non-tip no longer works there, while the tip-bogarter still does. When asked if she was fired or if she quite, our server said “a little of both.” So much for her 15 minutes of Warholian fame…Only other customers in the joint were two Obama canvassers from St. Louis University. They were sleeping on mattresses in a basement in Traer, our next stop…

    Hillary event #3 of the day, in the municipal building in adorable downtown Traer. The hall had the exact same finished wood beams as the Corinthians church did that morning. Again, Vilsack and Chelsea accompanied the Senator, with Vilsack introducing and Chelsea doing her usual Cheshire Cat impersonation. The crowed loved seeing her though. Hillary’s speech is quite able, and contains several memorable applause lines. She had pretty much emptied it of attacks, only obliquely mentioning the other Democratic candidates. The structure of the speech isn’t a speech in the oratorical sense: it’s a set of bullet points and riffs, and she hits the high notes right on queue. As has become her habit, she did not take questions from the clearly-adoring audience – even though she is quite good at that, too. I think this is a mistake. She is smart and strong on details, and has thought almost everything through. Taking questions and getting off the script could only help her candidacy, and her coverage.

    George Condon of Copley newspapers, who came to the Institute this fall to join Jerry Austin’s study group was there, seated between the Times’ Adam Nagorney and Primary Colors author (and Time columnist) Joe Klein. He even interviewed me for a story on people from states that can’t buy time with presidential candidates who travel to Iowa or New Hampshire as political tourists. I told him to spread the Dole Institute gospel with his neighbors on the press risers. Klein said he’d like to come.

    Next stop: a big Obama rally on the “south side” of Des Moines. Obama was introduced by North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad, who marks a stark contrast to the candidate. A 20-year veteran of the Senate and long-time chair of the budget committee, Conrad exudes the wonkishness and Washington experience that Obama’s critics claim he needs. It works: Obama’s a rhetorical racehorse to Conrad’s workhorse. The crowd of 1,000 + in the middle school gymnasium were “fired up” just like Obama said: and just as he promised he addressed the undecideds in the room. His arguments and rhetoric are more classical and logical than Senator Clinton’s: and he has recently added a nifty bit about Bill Clinton’s supposed lack of Washington experience in 1992 to ridicule the Clintons’ claims from 2007. He also gets a big laugh (something you didn’t see much at the Clinton events) about how inside-the-Beltway experts wanted to season, stew, and “boil the hope out of” Obama. He is a master of the peroration and turning what are, frankly, quite effective criticisms on their head. I saw both KC Star political reporter Steve Kraske and former Dole intern Rance Graham Bailey at the event, and both were wowed by the speech and the rally.

    9:30 p.m. on the Sunday before the caucus. Where can you eat in Des Moines? Since Adam Nagorney’s rave review of the restaurant scene, several of the nicer restaurants have really filled up with reporters and political tourists. Such is the case at 801 Grant, a fancy steak house that was busy hustling big hunks of meat to Klein and Terry McAuliffe, chief fundraiser for the Clintons. But the kitchen was closed! Famished, we went on to the old standby “Il Centro.” What a scene! KU and Dole Institute alum CJ Jackson was there. So was an entire table of LA politicos. My college classmate Eric Garcetti (president of the city council) was there, with his dad, former DA Gil Garcetti, both Obama supporters. Joining them was LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, in a very nice suit. The Washington Post table included 2006 post-election program veteran Dan Balz (who has written my favorite blog entries of the caucus season on The Trail — ) and Chris Cillizza, who writes the Post blog The Fix and accepted my invitation to come to the Institute this spring. Former study group speaker Walter Schapiro was there. Even minor-league celebrities like “Superman Returns” star and Iowa native Brandon Routh, who introduced Obama last night in Indianola.

    Also holding court was David Axelrod, Obama’s campaign manager, striking a Phil Jackson zen-like pose as he answered questions from me and everyone else. He feels good about the campaign, and said he’d like to visit the Institute when things shake out with the campaign. Should be great.

    A final thought or two. There is a definite echo chamber at work covering the candidates. Reporters are generally on buses together all day, and hear the same speeches over and over and over. There is very little news committed, day-to-day, on the Democratic side (the Republicans are locked in a much more negative, angry campaign at the moment – although that could change quickly). Then they all congregate in the same watering holes and restaurants at the end of every day, where they compare stories and eat expensed meals. (Full disclosure: I very much enjoyed my delicious pork chop, generously proffered by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.) It would be very, very hard to buck the horse-race style coverage this type of newsgathering generates, even with some of the best minds in reporting. I hope when the winnowing of the fields occur after Thursday’s caucus and next Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, some of these people turn back to deeply covering the issues and ideas these compelling candidates are tossing out.

    Iowans clearly take this process very seriously, and I was impressed with the future caucus-goers I met. But who wouldn’t take a decision this important seriously? Would Kansans or Nevadans blow it all off, watching televised bowling on TV and scarffing pork rinds, a la Homer Simpson? No way. Let’s figure out a way of choosing nominees that takes opinions of big and small states, red and blue states, white and diverse states, rural and urban states EQUALLY SERIOUSLY.

    Let the voting begin…

    New Dole Institute fellows make study session plans
    August 24th, 2007 under Uncategorized. [ Comments: none ]

    clift.jpg(From Lawrence-Journal World)

    Sit Jennifer Schmidt down in a room and ask her to talk about politics, and the conversation will span a range of locations and topics.

    There’s her experience as a staffer in the Statehouse in Topeka. And her time as a legal counselor on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. She has funny stories and amusing anecdotes, and Schmidt, one of two new fellows at Kansas University’s Dole Institute of Politics, is hoping to round those up and use them in her study session “Women in Politics: Career Stories.”

    “As a teacher and a practitioner, the question I got was, How do I get involved?” she said. “How do I do it?”

    Schmidt’s study group runs from September through mid-October.

    So far, Schmidt has been busy visiting classes at KU, trying to drum up interest among students. She said she’s already heard from a number of community members and politically active Kansans who want to attend.

    “I’m heartened by the interest among people who have found out about this,” she said. “We’re now three or four generations beyond the people I know, and they’re calling, telling me they can’t wait to come.”

    Though she’s “the Republican fellow,” Schmidt said she was working especially hard to ensure her events appeal to members of both political parties. The Dole Institute always selects one Republican and one Democrat for its fellowship program.

    She hopes to provide information about all the possible jobs in politics.

    Read more »

    Some Perils of Political Interactivity
    August 2nd, 2007 under Uncategorized, 2008 Presidential Race, Blogs in the News, Blogging & Politics. [ Comments: 1 ]

    I just finished my final draft of Blogwars: The New Political Battleground (Oxford University Press). It’s a book on the history, present and future of the role of the weblog in American politics. 

    As I have said, writing a book on blogs is like reporting NASCAR with stone tablets–so much happens so fast. One topic of current interest is the nature of interactivity: what are its benefits and drawbacks for politicians or for the public? In the bloglands, you can’t pack the rooms with your supporters, shut out hecklers, and enforce message discipline. Here are some examples of interactive blowback…
    Read more »

    A Pre-Med Student’s View on KS SB 55
    April 24th, 2007 under Uncategorized. [ Comments: 1 ]

    By Michael Gray - University of Kansas

     I have always found this time of year to be interesting politically.  The Governor¹s veto session, in recent years, has been particularly interesting due to the party divide between the Legislative and Executive Branch of the State.  The veto session we are presently in has caused me to step back and think, specifically in regards to Kansas Senate Bill 55.  I am currently a sophomore studying to go to medical school and I am also a Democrat.  These two ³hats² I wear do not typically clash, but in regards to SB 55 problems arise. The Democrat in me wants to see justice for all people.  If there has been a wrongdoing, I most certainly do not want to see the wrongdoer go free on a technicality of the law.  My second ³side,² as a pre-med student, forces me to consider how this will affect the medical field.

    Read more »

    Study Group Powerpoint
    March 8th, 2007 under Uncategorized, Dole Fellows, Fellows Programs. [ Comments: none ]

    Spring 2007 Study Group: “The Politics of Disasters” with Scott Morris Wednesday, March 7th Study Group Topic: Life Cycle of Disasters with special guest Bill Carwile, Adjunct Professor at Naval Postgraduate School and one of the pre-eminent response experts in the nation Click here for Bill Carwile’s Power Point presentation on the Life Cycle of Disasters!

    The Politics of Disasters
    March 8th, 2007 under Uncategorized, Dole Fellows. [ Comments: none ]



    The following is a previously published article that mentions our current Republican Spring Semester Fellow Scott Morris, Director of Florida Long Term Recovery and a Kansas University Graduate.


    Star Banner Editorial
    Published Oct 10, 2005
    OUR OPINION: Support for our favorite whipping boys

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been a favorite punching bag lately. And why not? First, there was the tragically tardy response to Hurricane Katrina, witnessed by the whole world. Then revelations surfaced about the qualifications — or lack thereof — of erstwhile horse show referee and former agency director Michael Brown.

    More recently, we’ve been treated to news about FEMA’s nearly $1.5 billion in no-bid contracts (now apparently up for bid) to a few select contractors, including, no surprise, Halliburton; about the agency’s ice follies, wherein millions of pounds of ice, purchased for three times the amount, was trucked at full expense to disaster sites like Idaho, Maryland and Maine for fear of melting, instead of being delivered to hurricane survivors. And forget about the quarter-billion-dollar cruise ships to nowhere that sit relatively empty.

    The masters of disasters in Washington are in hot water with a steaming Congress, but a recent meeting in Ocala provided reason to hope that at least one arm of FEMA is straightened out.

    Marion County Public Works Director Larry Thacker invited U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and representatives of the Florida Association of Counties to meet with Orlando-based FEMA troops. The session at the Elks Lodge was punctuated by one question from county officials from Miami to the Panhandle to Scott Morris, chief of the long-term recovery effort in Florida: where’s our money?

    The answer: it’s on the way. Guaranteed.

    Read more »

    Blogs not gospel, experts caution
    February 27th, 2007 under Uncategorized, Blogs in the News. [ Comments: none ]

    TORONTO — Britney Spears and Anna Nicole Smith don’t just have their drug habits in common. The troubled celebrities, one dead and the other on a rehab roller-coaster, have provided celebrity gossip blogs and websites with their brightest glory days.

    Sites like TMZ.com, Splash News Online and X17 are leading the mainstream media on fast-breaking developments in the two biggest celebrity stories in years — Spears’s in-and-out rehab drama and the entire Smith saga, from her sudden death to the ensuing battles about her baby’s paternity and where the former Playboy Playmate should be buried.

    TMZ, in particular, has led the charge in posting up-to-the-minute information on Spears — she was back in rehab, by the way, as of late Thursday afternoon — and also featured running posts on the sordid fight in a Florida courtroom about Smith’s final resting place. America Online owns TMZ.com and the infotainment show Extra.

    But the mainstream media shouldn’t hang their head in shame as they scramble to keep up with blogs and websites on sensational celebrity stories, says Bob Thompson, a pop culture professor at Syracuse University in upper New York state.

    “Let’s face it — blogs rush in where angels fear to tread, or in this case, where legitimate media fear to tread,” Thompson said. “The mainstream media has to keep its cool in light of all this — they have to continue to do their jobs, to confirm developments with credible sources and to give each story due diligence.”

    Read full story 

    Video: Blogging to the Chief Program - February 13, 2007
    February 14th, 2007 under Uncategorized. [ Comments: 15 ]

    Click on photo to view


    Dole Institute of Politics announces spring 2007 fellows
    January 31st, 2007 under Uncategorized, Dole Fellows. [ Comments: none ]


    KU News Release 

    LAWRENCE — The former governor of Missouri and a Florida Federal Emergency Management Agency official will be introduced at a public reception Thursday, Feb. 1, as the spring 2007 fellows at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas.

    Bob Holden, a former Missouri governor, and Scott Morris, director of FEMA’s Florida Long-Term Recovery, will spend the spring semester at the institute leading weekly not-for-credit study groups beginning in late February. Students, faculty and the public are invited to meet Holden and Morris at a reception in their honor at 5 p.m. Feb. 1 at the institute.

    Read more »


    The Dole Institute of Politics is a bipartisan facility. Our mission; to encourage political and civic involvement, especially among young people; to encourage civil discussion on important issues; to emphasize that politics is an honorable profession; and to provide opportunities for all to interact with political leaders, practitioners and writers.
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    A Summary of the 2006 Blogger-Reader Survey

    Fall 2006 Blogger/Reader Survey Details and Research Reports
    In December of 2006 Dr. Dhavan Shah of the University of Wisconsin and his “Blogclub” of graduate students and Dr. David D. Perlmutterof the University of Kansas conducted a survey of major political blogs and their readers. The project was partially sponsored by a grant from the Knight/Carnegie Foundation’s Future of Journalism initiative. The summary of the results are posted here--please fully cite us if you refer to the findings.

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