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Photo: post-election night analysis

Sponsored by La Pietra Dialogues, NYU Washington, DC, John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress and NYU Global Programs, this series preesnts panels of American and European political analysts, media experts, campaign insiders, and scholars discussing the 2012 American election cycle.  The panels consider the results of the Presidential and Congressional elections -- analyzing campaign strategies, game-changing events and what lies ahead for the American people and the world. 

photo: meet the panelists
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Nicole Bacharan is a historian, political analyst and radio and television consultant specialized in American society and relations between the United States and Europe. She is a National Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California, and an affiliated scholar with the National Foundation for Political Science (Science-Po) She is the author of numerous essays and books, including several bestsellers; among them: Le guide des élections américaines 2012 ((The guide to the 2012 US Election, with Dominique Simonnet), 11-Septembre, le jour du chaos (also with Dominique Simonnet, 2011), Les Noirs américains, des champs de coton à la Maison Blanche (American Blacks: From the Cotton Fields to the White House, 2010), Faut-il avoir peur de l´Amérique? (Should We Fear America?, 2005). She frequently appears on television - TF1, France2, France3, France5, TV5, M6, Arte, Histoire, Bloomberg, Télévision Suisse Romande, CNN - and gives interviews to the local, national and foreign press – Le Figaro, La Croix, L’Express, Le Point, Le Nouvel Observateur, Le Monde, Libération, Le Parisien, the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR. She is also a radio contributor for Europe 1 on international politics, questions concerning the United States and transatlantic relations. On September 11, 2001, live from the France 2 evening news show hosted by David Pujadas, she left a mark on French television-watchers when she said “Tonight, we are all Americans,” a phrase repeated the following day in the newspaper Le Monde.

Joel Benenson is the only Democratic pollster in history to have notched three winning presidential campaigns. He has been the chief pollster and a senior strategist for President Barack Obama since the beginning of his 2008 campaign, and worked on President Bill Clinton’s 1996 race. As the President and CEO of Benenson Strategy Group, which he founded in 2000, Benenson has served as a strategic advisor and consultant to heads of state, members of Congress and other national political leaders, Fortune 100 CEOs, and major advocacy and charitable institutions. Working in partnership with Project New West and a broad coalition, Benenson’s research framed the winning messaging strategy that overwhelmingly defeated the Personhood Amendment in Mississippi, one of the most conservative states in the nation. Benenson has worked with leading advocacy organizations including AARP, SEIU, and Clean Energy Works as well as some of America’s largest businesses including AOL, Campbell’s Soup Company, ESPN, Hertz, the NFL, Paramount, Procter & Gamble, and Toyota. Prior to becoming a pollster in 1995, Benenson was a political journalist for the Daily News in New York and served as communications director for Governor Mario Cuomo’s 1994 campaign. He was also previously a vice president at the New York ad agency FCB. Benenson is known for his unique combination of communication expertise and an aggressive analytical approach, producing winning messaging strategies in the most challenging situations. Benenson Strategy Group was founded in 2000 and is known for its Competitive Frameworking℠ model which leverages political campaign expertise to uncover the hidden architecture of opinion and turn insights into game-changing strategies for clients. Benenson Strategy Group has offices in New York, Washington, D.C., Denver and Los Angeles.

Mario Calvo-Platero has been covering the U.S. since 1980 and Presidential elections since the Reagan Mondale contest of 1984. As part of his duties, Mr. Platero covers most of the White House’s international trips. He is the author of several books, including Il Modello Americano, Egemonia e Consenso nell’Era della Globalizzazione, an award winning book on the American model for economic development and multilateralism. He has founded a media company in New York which now belongs to il Sole 24 Ore Group, has launched and edits ReviewItaly a monthly English language publication about business and politics in Italy, as well as the website America24. He is also the host of a daily 15 minute talk show in Italy about America on radio 24, the equivalent of NPR in Italy.

Bill Carrick is a strategic and media consultant. He is the founder of the firm, Carrick Consulting, which specializes in the creation, production, and placement of advertising for candidates, ballot initiatives, and organizations. Clients have included: President Bill Clinton, Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt, US Senators Dianne Feinstein and Charles Schumer, California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, Los Angeles Mayors Dick Riordan and James Hahn, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Bill Carrick developed communications and advertising strategies for ballot initiatives including the defeat of Tort Reform Initiatives, School Vouchers, San Fernando Valley and Hollywood Secession from Los Angeles, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s redistricting scheme. He was a media strategist for successful campaigns to pass ballot measures enacting New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s education reform initiatives and to approve a new Los Angeles City Charter. A native of South Carolina, Bill Carrick began his career in politics there and worked for local and statewide candidates, including South Carolina Governor Dick Riley. He went on to work in Washington, D.C. as Senator Ted Kennedy’s political director and as the national campaign manager for the 1988 Gephardt for President Campaign before moving to California. In 2009, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine appointed Bill to serve as member of the Democratic Change Commission to recommend reforms to the Presidential delegate selection process.  Bill has also worked as an on-air political analyst for ABC’s This Week, CNN, KABC-TV, and NPR.

With more than two decades of political and private sector consulting experience in the U.S. and around the globe, Alex Castellanos has developed communications strategies and campaigns for Fortune 100 Companies, served as media consultant to five U.S. presidential campaigns, helped elect eight U.S. senators and six governors. Castellanos co-founded Purple Strategies, a bipartisan public affairs firm, and currently serves as a member of CNN’s “Best Political Team on Television.”

Through his long career, he has become one of the Republican Party’s best known and most successful media consultants and strategists. Most recently, he served on the John McCain for President Ad Council. Previously, he worked as a senior strategist for the Romney for President campaign and as a key creative member to the Bush-Cheney 2000 and 2004 campaigns. Castellanos has been credited with the discovery of the political “soccer-mom” and called “father of the attack ad.”

Fortune Magazine singled out Castellanos as a “new-style media master” and in 2007, GQ Magazine named him one of the 50 Most Influential People in D.C. In 2008, he was honored as a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

A native of Havana, Cuba, he is fluent in Spanish and English. His parents, refugees who fled Castro’s Cuba in 1961, came to this country with one suitcase, two children and eleven dollars. A Morehead and National Merit Scholar at the University of North Carolina, he has lectured domestically and internationally, with venues ranging from Harvard University to the United States Army Communication School.

Michael Donilon is one of America’s leading media consultants and political strategists. Over the course of his career, he has been part of two winning U.S. presidential campaigns and more than 25 winning U.S. senate and gubernatorial campaigns. These campaigns have included the Clinton/Gore campaign in 1992 and the Obama/Biden campaign in 2008, as well as the campaigns of Governor Doug Wilder (VA), Governor Bob Casey (PA), Senator and Governor Jon Corzine (NJ), Senator Bill Nelson (FL), Senator Jack Reed (RI), and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI). From January of 2009 until May of 2010, Mr. Donilon served as Counselor to the Vice President of the United States. Mr. Donilon is a graduate of Georgetown University and Georgetown University Law School.

Todd Harris is one of the nation’s preeminent media and communications strategist. Politico called Harris “One of the brightest young minds in politics today,” while Roll Call dubbed him “A spinner extraordinaire in the world of political communication.”

In the 2010 election cycle, Harris served as senior strategist for former Speaker of the Florida House Marco Rubio’s campaign for the U.S. Senate.

He has served as a senior communications strategist and spokesman for some of the nation’s most prominent elected officials, including Senator John McCain, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Governor Jeb Bush. On the corporate side, Harris has advised some of the nation’s largest corporations and trade associations on communications strategy including Wal-Mart, Pfizer, 2929 Entertainment, Magnolia Pictures, The State of Florida, The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and many others.

He is a sought-after media source for journalists, with his commentary appearing regularly in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Associated Press and many others. He is a regular guest on a variety of political news programs on CNN, MSNBC and FOX News.

Harris has also provided extensive political communications training and consulting in numerous foreign countries including Tanzania, Croatia, Cambodia, Bulgaria, Serbia, the Former Soviet Republic of Georgia, and the Democratic Republic of East Timor.

A native of California, Harris is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Senior Advisor & Spokesman, Mitt Romney´s 2012 U.S. Presidential Campaign

Steve McMahon is a Media Consultant and Strategic Advisor to Democratic candidates for federal and statewide office and Democratic Party committees. McMahon got his start in politics on the Senate and political staff of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, where he served as Assistant Press Secretary and later, as Deputy Director of Kennedy’s PAC, the Fund for a Democratic Majority. McMahon has worked as a political strategist and media consultant for three U.S. presidential campaigns, and dozens of Senate, gubernatorial and mayoral campaigns across the country. McMahon and his partners also served as the principal political strategists and media advisors for former Vermont Governor Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign and successful race for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. And as a political analyst, McMahon appears regularly on the NBC Evening News, The Today Show, MSNBC, CNN and the Fox News Channel.

On the international front, McMahon and his partners have worked as strategic advisors and campaign consultants on the successful presidential campaigns of Carlos Andres Peres in Venezuela, Violetto Chamarro in Nicaragua and Andreas Papandreaou in Greece. He has also done a significant amount of strategic consulting and issue advertising for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic National Committee, and independent expenditure groups like The League of Conservation Voters and The Media Fund.

Marylouise Oates holds an M.Div from Yale. After becoming one of the first women reporters on The Daily Pennsylvanian, the student newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania, she became the youngest national reporter for United Press International, covering the 1964 Democratic Convention, the Philadelphia riots and New Jersey politics. She then moved to the National Desk in New York City. She joined the “Dump Johnson” movement, and served as Deputy National Press Secretary, McCarthy for President. She was the journalist-in-residence, The Daily Californian, the University of California, Berkeley, 1968-9, and then returned to Washington, D.C., where she was the press secretary for the National Vietnam Moratorium and subsequently for the National Welfare Rights Organization. She has been involved in the gay and lesbian civil rights movement since the 1970s. She became a reporter and then the nationally syndicated society columnist for the Los Angeles Times, where she refocused coverage to include minority concerns, the power of political money, and the emerging AIDS crisis. She is the author of three novels: one of them, Making Peace, which describes the turmoil and intrigues of the anti-war movement, was praised in the New York Times for capturing the spirit of that era. She worked with First Lady Hillary Clinton in the global initiative to empower women, Vital Voices, and created and directed the Friends of the Communities of Northern Ireland, which has raised and allocated more than 5 million pounds to community-building and peace-building projects.

Beppe Severgnini has been writing for Corriere della Sera since 1995. Since 2011, he has served as a columnist for the Financial Times. His most recent book is La pancia degli italiani. Berlusconi spiegato ai posteri (Rizzoli, 2010), which was published in English as Mamma mia! Berlusconi´s Italy Explained to Posterity and Friends Abroad (Rizzoli, 2011). Since 1998, Severgnini moderates the online forum ´Italians´ at Corriere della Sera ( He is the most-followed Italian journalist on Twitter (!/beppesevergnini).

Robert M. Shrum was senior advisor to the Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004. The Atlantic Monthly described him as “the most sought-after consultant in the Democratic Party.” He served as a senior adviser to the Gore 2000 Presidential Campaign, to the campaign of Prime Minister Ehud Barak of Israel, and to the British Labour Party in the 2001 Parliamentary campaign.

Mr. Shrum was the principal speechwriter to Senator George McGovern in the 1972 Democratic campaign for President. Subsequently, he was the staff director and chief counsel of the United States Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs. Mr. Shrum served as press secretary to Senator Edward M. Kennedy from 1980 to 1984, and he was the Senator’s principal speechwriter during and after the 1980 presidential campaign.

As a journalist, Mr. Shrum's work has appeared in New York Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and The New Republic, among other publications. He has been a columnist for Slate and The Huffington Post, and writes a regular column for Newsweek/The Daily Beast. Since 1985, Mr. Shrum was a strategist and advertising consultant for thirty winning U.S. Senate campaigns; eight winning campaigns for Governor; the Mayors of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Denver, Dade County and San Francisco, and the Democratic Leader of the United States House of Representatives.

Mr. Shrum's book, No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner, was published in June 2007 by Simon and Schuster. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, and has taught at Yale and Boston College.

Liz Sidoti is the political editor in Washington for The Associated Press. She was the lead reporter on AP’s coverage of the historic 2008 presidential contest. In her current role, she leads a team of political reporters in Washington and guides national coverage by AP's network of journalists in every state capital. A former Ohio statehouse reporter for the AP, she’s responsible for leveraging that unique 50-state resource to ensure the AP breaks political news, conveys the electorate's changing mood and explains issues that matter to voters. Above all, she will ensure that the AP provides clarity during an election that will affect every American.

Liz has covered national politics for the AP since 2003. She was named chief national political writer in 2009, becoming the AP's lead reporter covering national campaigns while tracking political trends in federal, state and local governments and in the country at large. She is a veteran of two presidential campaigns—in 2004 and 2008—and two midterm congressional campaigns—in 2006 and 2010. She was a White House reporter for the AP covering President Barack Obama's first six months in office, and also spent 18 months reporting from Congress on national security and foreign affairs issues. She joined the AP in Cincinnati in 1999, and spent four years covering the Ohio Statehouse and politics. Prior to AP, she did reporting stints at The Columbus Dispatch, The Repository in Canton, Ohio, and the Record-Courier in Portage County, Ohio. A native of Kent, Ohio, Sidoti has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio University.

Joshua A. Tucker is a Professor of Politics with an affiliated appointment in the Department of Russian and Slavic Studies at New York University (NYU); he is also an affiliated Professor of Politics at NYU-Abu Dhabi. Professor Tucker’s specializes in comparative politics with an emphasis on mass political behavior in East-Central Europe and the former Soviet Union, including elections and voting, the development of partisan attachment, and public opinion formation. He is the author of Regional Economic Voting: Russia, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, 1990-99 (Cambridge University Press, 2006). His work has appeared in numerous academic journals, including the American Journal of Political Science, British Journal of Politics, Comparative Politics, Comparative Political Studies, the Journal of Politics, and the Annual Review of Political Science, and his opinions have been published in The New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, Al Jazeera English, and the International Herald Tribune. In 2006, he was awarded the Emerging Scholar Award for the top scholar in the field of Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior within 10 years of the doctorate. He has served as a Truman National Security Fellow since 2008, and was the recipient of NYU’s “Golden Dozen” teaching award in 2011. He is currently the Vice-President of the Midwest Political Science Association and a Member of the Executive Board of the Association for the Study of East European and Eurasian Societies.

Michael Waldman is President of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, a nonpartisan law and policy institute that focuses on fundamental issues of democracy and justice. The Center is one of the nation’s leading legal voices on election law, Constitutional law, government reform and racial justice. In 2008 it protected the voting rights of at least 500,000 citizens. The Boston Globe called the Center “indispensible.” Waldman has led the Center since 2005.

Mr. Waldman was Director of Speechwriting for President Bill Clinton from 1995-99, serving as Assistant to the President. He was responsible for writing or editing nearly 2,000 speeches, including four State of the Union and two Inaugural Addresses. He was Special Assistant to the President for Policy Coordination from 1993-95. As the top White House policy aide on campaign finance reform, he drafted the Clinton administration's public financing proposal.

He is the author of several books, including My Fellow Americans: The Most Important Speeches of America’s Presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama (2003, 2010); A Return to Common Sense (2007); POTUS Speaks (2000); and Who Robbed America? A Citizens' Guide to the S&L Scandal (1990).

Mr. Waldman appears frequently on television and radio to discuss public policy, the presidency and the law. Appearances include Good Morning America; the Colbert Report; PBS’ Newshour, CBS Evening News; the O'Reilly Factor; Nightline; 60 Minutes; Hardball with Chris Matthews; CNN’s Crossfire; color commentary on NBC (State of the Union) and ABC (Obama inaugural); NPR’s Morning Edition; All Things Considered; Fresh Air; Diane Rehm and many other programs. He writes frequently for publications including The New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, Slate and Democracy.

Prior to his government service, Mr. Waldman was the executive director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch, then the capital's largest consumer lobbying office (1989-92). He was a Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government (2001-03), teaching courses on political reform, public leadership and communications. He was a partner in a litigation law firm in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Paolo Valentino is Senior Foreign Policy Columnist at Corriere della Sera since September 2010. He served as Washington Bureau Chief from 2007-2010, covering the Obama ’08 campaign in depth. Before his departure he was accorded a one on one interview with President Obama in the Oval Office. Before arriving in Washington he served as Moscow Bureau Chief from 1990-1995, covering the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of the new Russia, and as Berlin Bureau Chief from 1995-2007. He has also served as correspondent for Corriere della Sera in Brussels, covering the EEC and NATO, and as a staff reporter at the foreign desk in Milan. In 1988 he covered Jesse Jackson’s presidential primary campaign in the U.S. Mr. Valentino graduated with a degree in Political Science from the University of Florence (1980). He earned an M.A. in International Economics from Cambridge University (1981) and served as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University (1989-1990), where he studied the American Presidency and American foreign policy at the Kennedy School of Government.

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