They might be from different political parties, but they shared one stage at Miami University.
Scott McClellan and Dee Dee Myers, two former White House press secretaries, spoke about the political present and future of America at 8 p.m. Monday night at Hall Auditorium.
McClellan and Myers, with a speech titled “The 2008 Presidential Election: An Insider’s View,” are the first speakers in Miami University’s lecture series. Although they spoke about the same topic, their tones were different in their hopes for the future.
Myers, who was a press secretary during the Clinton administration, was also America’s first female press secretary. The second female to hold the position, Dana Perino, took office Monday and while at Miami, both McClellan and Myers called her to wish her luck.
McClellan, on the other hand, was a senior presidential adviser and press secretary for President George W. Bush.
During her speech one point that Myers emphasized was America’s desire for change-whether it comes from the Democrats or the Republicans.
“I don’t think the Democrats can take this race for granted,” she said.
Myers also acknowledged the new issues of race and gender facing the election. She made the point that Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) being a woman or Barack Obama (D-Ill.) being African-American wouldn’t be an problem for those voting in the Democratic primary, but in the general election this issue will inevitably come up.
At a press conference earlier in the day, Myers expressed problems with the current primary system. Most worrisome to her is the prospect of having the race narrowed down to two candidates by February 2008. She said she feared that with that much time, policy would lose ground to mudslinging.
Campaign finance was another issue she wished had some effective reforms.
“Is money now the first primary?” she said. “It absolutely is in this cycle.”
She predicts that the 2008 election will be the most expensive election in U.S. history by “a factor of two,” meaning that it would double in cost from the 2004 election.
As far as 2008 is concerned, Myers made the prediction that Hillary Clinton will run against Rudy Giuliani.
When McClellan took to the podium, his address was much more solemn, focusing more on the current bitterness in Washington D.C. and less on the political future of the Republican Party.
“The bitter divide in Washington started in the 80s,” McClellan said. “It has only worsened after the decision to go to Iraq.”
He asserts that getting “political mileage” now counts for more than getting consensus decisions in the beltway. He conceded that Bush’s approval rating was very low, however the Democratic House of Representatives is also lacking in the polls.
Throughout his speech, McClellan reminded the sold-out audience that the United States went into Iraq in a bipartisan fashion, but now cannot reach a decision about how to move forward.
“I do not see much changing in (Bush’s) remaining time in office,” he said.
McClellan’s predictions for the presidential elections are also Clinton and Giuliani. The latter he feels, will win votes because he is remembered favorably as the “9/11 mayor.”
McClellan said many social conservatives would overlook Giuliani’s leftist stances on issues such as abortion due to his more conservative stance on national security.
Although Miami students enjoyed the event, some were looking for a little more depth-and a little more debate.
“I was hoping for a little more conflict between the two,” said Zach Gaver, a senior economics major. “I would have liked to see them focus more on their own experience instead of politics in Washington.”
Hayley Midford, a senior political science major, agreed, adding that though she enjoyed it, she had hoped for deeper issues to be covered.
“I would have liked to see more in-depth questions; they were overly general,” Midford said. “I really enjoyed hearing (Myer’s) speech. She focused on the future and (McClellan) focused on his term.”