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Charlie vs. Goliath

February 15, 2018

Charlie vs. Goliath

NYU Washington, DC and the NYU Brademas Center presented a screening of Charlie vs Goliath, a feature-length documentary about a former Catholic priest returning to Wyoming after working among the poor in Venezuela. Upon his return, however, he saw homelessness and hunger, poverty and despair, and decided to try and fix things by running for the US Senate. 

His opponent was supported by a huge campaign chest bolstered by corporate donations – something Hardy had rejected. This film chronicles one man’s battle to take on the political establishment and show you can win in politics without discarding your values.

NYU DC faculty Tad Devine and Ron Christie joined a discussion following the film. This dialogue was moderated by NYUDC Global Leadership Scholar, Manahil Zafar.

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NYU DC Dialogues

5 Year Anniversary

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Ron Christie

Ron Christie

Ron Christie, founder and President of Christie Strategies LLC, is a veteran senior advisor of both the White House and the Congress, brings years of government relations and media experience.

Previously, Christie served as Vice President of Navigators Global LLC - a strategic consulting and communications firm. He previously served as Executive Vice President and Director of Global Government Affairs at Ruder Finn and Of Counsel at the Washington D.C. law firm 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 healthcare, budget, tax and other policy areas. 

Tad Devine

Tad Devine

Thomas A. (Tad) Devine was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1955. He was an All-State basketball player at La Salle Academy, and received his A.B. in American History from Brown University, and his J.D. from Suffolk University School of Law. He is a member of the Bar in Rhode Island and the District of Columbia, and a member of the Board of Directors and Secretary of the Corporation at IFES, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, an NGO which is a global leader in the promotion of democracy. 

Manahil Zafar

Manahil Zafar

Manahil Zafar is a sophomore at New York University, pursuing a double major in Journalism and Psychology. During her semester at Washington D.C., she will be interning with the Liberty and National Security program at the Brennan Center for Justice. Manahil is a NYUDC Global Leadership Scholar, a Dean’s Circle Scholar, and Dean’s List honoree. She is currently on the pre-law track and is hoping to open her own law firm in the future.


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After being snubbed by his congressional representatives, Charlie decides to run for office himself in 2014 and manages to win the Democratic Party’s nomination for the US Senate. His Republican opponent has a $3 million war chest, and Charlie’s advisors urge him to focus his efforts on fundraising. Instead, Charlie rejects money from special interests and makes campaign finance reform a key part of his platform. The election is considered the most lopsided in the country and his friends say he is “tilting at windmills.” But Charlie is convinced he will triumph even with all the cards stacked against him. A 21st century Don Quixote, Charlie galvanizes a ragged band of young volunteers determined to make waves in Wyoming’s elections, and in so doing set a precedent for the rest of the country.

The film provides an intimate portrayal of this resolute and uniquely charismatic septuagenarian while revealing an inside look at a campaign fueled by hope rather than money. Challenging the belief that our political process is fair and democratic, Charlie vs Goliath explores the question of how an honest and sincere person without money can make a difference running for higher office, and more broadly, whether, in the spirit of Don Quixote, it is worth fighting an unbeatable foe and dreaming an impossible dream.