December 8, 2015
NYU Washington, DC hosted a group of American political insiders who discussed the current electoral scene in the lead up to the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. Republican and Democratic strategists assessed current political dynamics as the presidential primary season quickly approaches. The panel explored American voter behavior, trends and expectations, insights and perspectives and also considered how recent global events, dominating the news cycle, will influence public opinion.
Ron Christie is Founder and CEO of Christie Strategies LLC, a full-service communications and issues management firm in Washington, D.C. He is also the author of the books Black in the White House published by Nelson Current in January 2006 and, Acting White: The Birth and Death of a Racial Slur in 2010 by St. Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne.
Christie, a veteran senior advisor of both the White House and the Congress, brings years of government relations experience. Most recently, Christie served as Vice President of Navigators LLC – a full service strategic consulting and communications firm. He also has served as Executive Vice President and Director of Global Government Affairs at Ruder Finn and Of Counsel at the DC law firm of Patton Boggs, LLP. From 2002 to 2004, he was Acting Director of USA Freedom Corps and special assistant to President George W. Bush. He began service at the White House in 2001 as deputy assistant to Vice President Cheney for domestic policy, advising the Vice President on policy initiatives in health care, budget, tax and other policy areas.
Prior to joining the Vice President's staff, he briefly served as counsel to U.S. Senator George Allen (R-VA). He also served as senior advisor to former House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich (R-OH) from 1992 - 1999.
Active in international affairs, he was elected as a term member to the Council on Foreign Relations in 2001, a distinguished group devoted to promoting improved understanding of international affairs through the free exchange of ideas. While serving in the White House, Christie was asked by President Bush to lead an American delegation to an international conference on volunteerism and civic engagement hosted by then Prime Minister Tony Blair in London, England. Subsequent to the volunteerism summit, Christie worked with then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown to devise an expanded call for civic engagement in Great Britain.
As a frequent commentator on current political events, he has appeared as a political/legal analyst on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Lou Dobbs Tonight, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Fox News Sunday, Hannity & Colmes, The O'Reilly Factor, and The Tavis Smiley Show. Christie also serves as a weekly Contributor and Panelist on National Public Radio’s “Tell Me More” program. A noted political strategist and skilled orator, Christie is a contributing columnist for The Hill, a leading Capitol Hill newspaper, and is one of their featured writers on The Pundit’s Blog.
A native of Palo Alto, California, he received his B.A. from Haverford College and his J.D. from the George Washington University National Law Center. Christie has served as an Adjunct Professor of Strategic Advocacy at the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. He has also taught a course on strategic advocacy at his alma mater, Haverford College, where he was appointed a Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science in 2009 and 2011.
Rob Collins is a senior principal at the S-3 Group. Prior to S-3, Collins was the Executive Director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, a $125 million, 80-person organization responsible for electing Republicans into the U.S. Senate. During his tenure at the NRSC he helped reelect 12 incumbents and elect 12 new Republicans. These pickups were part of a historic 9-seat gain for the Republicans, the largest GOP gain in over 35 years.
Before taking over at the NRSC, Collins was a partner at Purple Strategies, a bipartisan consulting firm. He also ran the American Action Network, which raised over $30 million for advocacy in 5 Senate races and 35 House districts. In addition, he created the Hispanic Leadership Network co-chaired by Governor Jeb Bush and Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. Before starting the Network, Collins was Chief of Staff for Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Collins has been chosen by Roll Call Newspaper as a member of the ‘Fab 50’ four times, by Washington Magazine’s “Power 100’ twice and recently Fortune Magazine cited him as the ‘Top Strategist’ for Republicans in 2016.
Raised in Syracuse, NY, Collins now lives with his wife and four children in Washington, DC.
Called “one of the most prominent voices in the [Democratic] party, and one of its top strategists and crisis managers” by POLITICO, Stephanie’s political and communications experience spans two decades in public service and the private sector. The New York Times called her “the polished, sometimes scarily organized strategist who gets things done” who “has a long and favorable reputation with some of the most influential journalists and opinion makers in Washington.” GQ named her one of “the 50 most powerful people in Washington.”
From the halls of Congress, to the campaign trail, the West Wing and the C-suite, Stephanie has crafted communications and crisis-management strategies for the nation’s leading campaigns and corporations. As The Atlantic notes, “Cutter’s ability to drive home a message with force and clarity is prized.”
Most recently, Stephanie was Deputy Campaign Manager for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, Obama for America. In that capacity, she oversaw communications, media, policy, and research, and was a member of the senior strategy team. She also served as Chairman of the Board for the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Before joining the campaign, Stephanie was Deputy Senior Adviser to President Obama, managing message strategy and issue development. At the White House, she also crafted the confirmation strategy for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and helped create the First Lady’s successful Let’s Move! campaign. From January to May 2009, Stephanie served as Counselor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, handling the strategy behind the development and implementation of the Obama Administration’s Financial Stability Plan.
Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Stephanie was the Chief Spokesperson for the Obama-Biden Transition, and served as Michelle Obama’s Chief of Staff on the 2008 Obama for America campaign.
In 2006, Stephanie started the Cutter Media Group (CMG), a strategic communications firm that specializes in designing and implementing public affairs strategies, including message development, crisis management, national and grassroots coalition building, and other strategic communications, for corporations, political and issue-based campaigns, trade associations and non-profit organizations.
From January 2005 to March 2006, Stephanie was a senior advisor to then Minority Leader Harry Reid and Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy. In this dual role, she developed a message and communications strategy for Senate Democratic leadership and managed the strategic campaign that led to the Democratic takeover in the 2006 elections. She also devised and implemented a rapid response system for members of Congress, national Democrats and advocacy groups to promote message unity in the fight to regain a Democratic majority in Congress.
In the fall of 2003, the John Kerry for President Campaign brought in Stephanie to serve as a National Spokesperson and develop a communications plan to reposition Kerry for victory. After the campaign’s come-from-behind upset in Iowa, she assumed the position of Communications Director for the Kerry-Edwards 2004 presidential campaign.
Before joining the campaign, Stephanie was Communications Director to Senator Edward M. Kennedy. From 1994 to 2001, she held various positions in the Clinton Administration, including White House Deputy Communications Director and Deputy Assistant to the President.
In the fall of 2013, Stephanie was announced as the co-host of CNN’s Crossfire show. Stephanie was a Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, taught at Johns Hopkins University, and has lectured at Smith College, American University and the University of Pennsylvania.
Stephanie sits on the boards of Organizing for Action, the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. In 2013, she was appointed to the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities.
Stephanie is represented by Leading Authorities Speakers Bureau in Washington, D.C.
A Massachusetts native, Stephanie lives in Washington, DC, and is a graduate of Smith College and Georgetown University Law Center.
Kevin Madden is a nationally recognized communications strategist, having served as a senior counselor to some of the nation’s top leaders in both the public and private sectors over the last 15 years.
Kevin has designed and managed some of the most high profile communications campaigns in the country, ranging from presidential cabinet level departments to public advocacy and issue campaigns for business coalitions, non-profit organizations and Fortune 500 companies.
Kevin’s work on presidential campaigns and in congressional leadership has also helped him develop a reputation as a highly effective and sought after crisis communications manager.
Kevin most recently served as a senior advisor to and spokesman for Governor Mitt Romney’s 2012 and 2008 presidential campaigns. Prior to joining Governor Romney’s campaign, Mr. Madden served as Press Secretary to then-House Majority Leader, now-House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Before his work as a top leadership aide on Capitol Hill, Mr. Madden served as the Department of Justice’s national spokesman on issues ranging from national security to litigation before the federal courts.
During the 2004 presidential campaign, Mr. Madden was a member of the communications team directing President George W. Bush’s re-election effort, serving as the president’s campaign spokesman for regional, national and international news organizations.
Kevin is a graduate of the State University of New York at Cortland with a bachelor’s degree in Communications.
Kevin originally hails from Yonkers, NY and now resides in Washington, DC.
Steve is an adjunct faculty member at NYU Washington, DC and an attorney and co-founder of Purple Strategies, where he serves as Chief Executive Officer. He got his start in politics in the Senate and on the political staff of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and has worked on dozens of Senate, Gubernatorial and Mayoral campaigns across the country.
Steve has served in senior roles in three presidential campaigns, and produced the advertising in support of then Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic National Committee in the 2008 presidential campaign.
For the past twelve years, Steve’s principal focus has been on providing comprehensive reputation, brand image, crisis management and issue advocacy campaigns to companies and industries operating in challenging environments, including BP, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Caterpillar, Bayer, PhRMA, and the American Chemistry Council. He and his colleagues have also handled numerous initiative and referendum campaigns on a wide range of subjects, and helped develop litigation communication strategies for major companies facing significant litigation threats.
Steve appears regularly as a political commentator on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews and other MSNBC programming. During the past four campaign seasons, he was a frequent political commentator on NBC, MSNBC, CNN, and FOX NEWS. Steve is married to Cynthia Alksne, a former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst. The couple has four daughters.
Jay Newton-Small is a Washington correspondent for TIME. She covers politics, including the White House, Congress and past presidential campaigns. Her book, “Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works,” will be published in January 2016. She contributes regularly to TIME’s Swampland and Global Spin blogs. Newton-Small received an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University and a B.S. in international relations from Tufts University. The daughter of two U.N. diplomats, she grew up abroad, living in such places as Asia, Africa and Europe. She is fluent in French. She is on Twitter @JNSmall.
Patrick J. Egan is Associate Professor of Politics and Public Policy at NYU. He specializes in public opinion, political institutions and their relationship in American politics. He is author of Partisan Priorities: How Issue Ownership Drives and Distorts American Politics (Cambridge, 2013) and co-editor of Public Opinion and Constitutional Controversy (Oxford, 2008).He was also a principal investigator on the first political survey of lesbians, gays and bisexuals ever to be fielded with a probability-based sample in 2007. Before entering academia, he served as an Assistant Deputy Mayor of Policy and Planning in the office of Philadelphia Mayor Edward Rendell. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School. He writes about politics and policy for the Monkey Cage blog at the Washington Post.
This event was in collaboration with La Pietra Dialogues' Inside American Politics series, an annual dialogue on focused on U.S. politics. This annual politics dialogue has become an important meeting point for an in-depth discussion of high level experts and actors from both sides of the aisle, and the Atlantic.
To learn more, and view previous panels from the Inside American Politics series, please visit La Pietra Dialogues.