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Dueling Couple to Visit Campus

Nationally recognized as one of the country’s most famous warring couples, James Carville and Mary Matalin are coming to duke it out at 7 p.m. on Oct. 31 in the Centrum.  Serving as the kick-off for political awareness week, the event offers a unique opportunity for students to become politically informed.

Carville, best known as the lead strategist for President Bill Clinton’s campaign, is a charismatic Southerner and renowned as being audaciously liberal.  His wife is equally well recognized, as a fiercely conservative Republican who served as an assistant to President George W. Bush and as counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney. Matalin is the first White House official to hold this double title.  The two have been married for 18 years and have two daughters.

Junior Samantha Phillippe, the programs and events commissioner for the Student Government Association, emphasizes that this is a rare chance to see such a fascinating dynamic.

“We’re hoping this will draw students whether they are politically active or not,” Phillippe said. “To see how these two can be on opposite sides of the spectrum and still remain married creates an interesting dynamic.”

The event, which has free admission and is open to the public, will be moderated by talk show host Scott Hennen.

“We’ll cover it all,” Hennen said in an email, “from the most pressing issues/political topics of the current campaigns to hearing stories from their time serving the Bush & Clinton administrations.”

Hennen also noted that the event is an opportunity to discuss the topics of his new book, “Grassroots: A Common Sense Action Agenda for America” which was published by Matalin, and addresses the tea party movement.

“Of course, Mr. Carville’s recent comments critical of the Obama administration [as well as his former boss, President Clinton] will be a topic I plan to include,” Hennen writes.  “The discussion itself will no doubt prompt a whole range of additional topics.”

There will also be reserved time for questions from the audience, the part of the discussion that Britt Aasmundstad, vice president of College Conservatives, is most excited about.

“When students ask questions that’s when it’s most organic,” Aasmundstad said, “and Cobbers always know how to ask a good question.”

The first seeds for this event were planted last spring at a meeting with the Advancement Office in which senior Tyler Dugger, President of SGA, expressed interest in bringing a high-caliber political speaker to campus.  The office found that Carville and Matalin were the best option.

The event is being organized by Student Government Association, with help from the Campus Republicans, Campus Democrats and Concordia Conservatives.  Thus, it is an entirely college-supported event. The highest single donation is coming from the SPIF fund, said Reagan Haroldson, a member of the task force that allocated the SPIF.  So far they have $15,000 set aside for this event.  Because of this, Phillippe said they hope students realize that “this event is for them as much or more as it is for the public.”

Phillippe also stated that they are expecting a full house and are planning to have overflow sites that are as just as interactive as the main site.  Security will escort the couple at all times, although protesters are not anticipated due to the fact that both sides are represented at the event.

In addition to being Clinton’s lead strategist, Carville is a well-known media personality. He used to host the CNN news show “Crossfire” and now appears on “The Situation Room.”  He currently teaches political science at Tulane University in New Orleans where he lives with his family.  Mary Matalin is also chief editor of the conservative publication “Threshold Editions” and appeared in an award-winning documentary.  Together the two co-authored along with Peter Knobler, “All’s Fair: Love, War, and Running for President.”

In order to inform students on their opportunity to see these two live, members of the hosting organizations are beginning to visit classes such as oral communication and will have an informational table set up on the day of the event.

“Even if student’s aren’t politically involved or don’t know what their political beliefs are, they’re still two really, really great speakers,” Aasmundstad said. “I hope that students who usually wouldn’t go to something like this are intrigued enough by their dynamic to attend the event.”

Dugger also stated that the fact that America is moving into a contentious electoral year creates even more reason to become politically savvy citizens.

“Part of my initial proposal was that, if we want to be actively engaged in the public we have to be well informed on the subjects, and not only well-informed, but well-versed, in what’s going on,” Dugger said. “This is the opportunity for students to do that.”

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