Two CNN stars come to USF to debate

Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan both have impressive credentials when it comes to national politics, and both will be at USF Monday night to debate about the upcoming election. The two are very familiar as they debate each other weekly on CNN’s Inside Politics.

Brazile worked as Al Gore’s presidential campaign manager in 2000, which made her the first African American woman to manage a presidential campaign. She is currently the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committees Voting Rights Institute, which has been instrumental in swelling black turnouts in key congressional elections. She also was instrumental in the Hands Across America Campaign in 1985.

Buchanan was appointed the youngest U.S. Treasurer ever in 1981 and was campaign chairman on the presidential campaigns for her brother (Pat Buchanan) in both 1992 and 1996. She is currently the President of the American Cause, which is an educational foundation started by her brother.

“We organized this event because the election is very close and it might help undecided voters to make a decision before they vote,” said Michael Crump, head of the University Lecture Series.

A large turnout is expected, and the event is for more than just undecided voters.

“We hope that a lot of undecided voters come but it should be good for everybody who is interested in politics and especially in the behind-the-scenes of politics,” Crump said.

“It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you’re on, everyone should try to see this event because it is important to try to hear both sides of things,” said Omar Khan, former student body president.

“I believe that you have to have both sides expressed on campus,” said Buchanan in an interview Thursday.

Buchanan said she hopes that she and Brazile will be able to talk to some students directly.

“The key is to get a dialogue going with the students; there needs to be a feeling that there are two legitimate sides,” Buchanan said.

“It is important that people aren’t afraid to challenge their views. Always welcome a debate,” said Khan. “It’s very hard to have an informed electorate if people don’t challenge their views, and the best way to challenge your views is to hear the other side.”

Brazile said in an e-mail interview that it is also important for people to watch “to understand why their vote and voice matters.”

The debate will touch on a wide variety of issues. Both candidates know that the war in Iraq will probably be a big topic, among other things.

“I am prepared to discuss the war in Iraq, the draft and the economy,” Brazile said.

Brazile added that other issues might include “education, health care and any lingering issues around ‘hanging chads,’ ‘swinging chads’ and my favorite – the ‘pregnant chads.'”

Buchanan listed a similar roll call of issues that may come up.

The debate will be at 7 p.m. in the Special Events Center on Monday. Admission is free.