Institute of Politics to host bipartisan panel on 2012 presidential election

Leading political commentators will meet at the University of Chicago on May 29 for a bipartisan discussion on the current state of the U.S. presidential election, hosted by the new Institute of Politics.

The program, “Campaign 2012: A Halftime Update,” will begin at 5 p.m. at International House’s Assembly Hall. Doors will open at 4:15 p.m. The event also will be webcast through the UChicago Live tab on Facebook. Admission is limited to UChicago ID holders and invited guests.


“With the general election now upon us, the presidential candidates will start defining themselves, the electorate will become more engaged and the media will be more aggressive in its reporting,” said David Axelrod, AB’76, who will serve after the 2012 election as the inaugural director of the Institute of Politics. Axelrod currently is senior strategist for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

“This important moment for our country also presents an exciting opportunity to hold another IOP forum,” Axelrod said. “And I’m thrilled by the program we have put together, which promises to be insightful, respectful and entertaining."

Panelists for the event will include:

David Gregory, moderator: Moderator of the Sunday political program “Meet the Press” on NBC, David Gregory is also a regular contributor for “Today” and MSNBC. He previously served as Chief White House Correspondent during the presidency of George W. Bush.

Jennifer Granholm: The former governor of Michigan, Granholm currently hosts “The War Room With Jennifer Granholm” on Current TV.  She was Michigan’s first female governor and also served as attorney general of Michigan. Granholm served on President Obama’s transition team before he assumed office in January 2009.

Steve Schmidt: A political analyst for MSNBC, Schmidt served as senior strategist for the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain. He also served as campaign manager for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2006 re-election as California governor and oversaw the "war room" for President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election. He was deputy assistant to the president and counselor to the vice president under President George W. Bush.

John Heilemann: Heilemann is national affairs editor for New York magazine and co-author of Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime. He is a former staff writer for The New Yorker, Wired and The Economist.

Eugene Robinson: The Pulitzer Prize-winning Robinson is a columnist for The Washington Post, where he has worked in various roles for more than 25 years. He is also the author of Disintegration: The Splintering of Black AmericaCoal to Cream: A Black Man’s Journey Beyond Color to an Affirmation of Race, and Last Dance in Havana.

“Campaign 2012: A Halftime Update” will feature a panel discussion on the state of the 2012 presidential election, followed by questions from the audience. In addition, anyone can suggest topics for the panel and follow the discussion live through the UChicago Facebook page or via Twitter using the hashtag #IOPHalftime.

The Institute of Politics, announced in January, is a non-partisan institute that will offer students at UChicago extracurricular opportunities to study and participate in civic life in Chicago and around the nation. Three programs will form the core of the initiative: A new program of visiting fellows and policy practitioners, an expanded set of policy and public interest internships based on UChicago’s innovative Jeff Metcalf Fellows Program, and a series of public lectures about policy and political life. Programming through the institute officially will begin in early 2013.