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AU Experts Available to Analyze First GOP Debate

WHO: American University experts available for pre &post GOP debate analysis

WHAT: Discussion and analysis for the first Republican Debate

WHEN: July 29 - ongoing

WHERE: Via telephone, in-studio, or at American University

Contact: American University Communications at 202-885-5950 or via e-mail at

BACKGROUND:  Republican presidential hopefuls will gather in Ohio for the first debate of the 2016 campaign on August 6. The top 10 contenders will have their first chance to potentially break out from the crowded field and overtake Donald Trump in the polls.

Will the opportunity to speak to the broader American public outside of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina be a game changer for participants on the fringe? If a candidate stumbles, can their campaign recover before the next debate? Why are candidates trying to manage expectations? Will those who perform well see campaign coffers grow?

These are some of the questions American University experts below are prepared to address in addition to others.

Debate Preparation &History
Robert Lehrman, public communication professor, is a former chief speechwriter to Vice President Al Gore, is author of the book The Political Speechwriter's Companion: A Guide for Speakers and Writers. Lehrman also writes and speaks about politics and language.

Lehrman is available to discuss:
*The history of presidential debates
*How candidates prepare
*Great moments -- or costly flubs -- in past debates
*The effect they have in the polls
*Good versus bad answers

Richard Benedetto, professor of journalism, served as a White House correspondent and columnist for USA Today and political columnist for Gannett News Service. Benedetto covered the White House from Reagan through George W. Bush and can speak to how U.S. Presidents use the speech during their terms of office.

Benedetto is available to discuss:
*History of presidential debates
*Importance of debates
*Voter reaction and debate effects on polls
*Candidates &Political Communication

James Thurber, (Only available for telephone interviews) Center for Congressional &Presidential Studies director, is an expert on campaigns and conduct. He is also an expert in congressional-presidential relations, interest groups and lobbying, and campaigns and elections.

Thurber is available to discuss:
Candidates and their strategies, themes, and message.

Jennifer Lawless, School of Public Affairs professor of government is also the director of the Women &Politics Institute. Professor Lawless focuses on political ambition, and she is the co-author three recent books Running from Office: Why Young Americans Are Turned Off to Politics, It Still Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don't Run for Office and Becoming a Candidate: Political Ambition and the Decision to Run for Office. She is also a nationally recognized expert on women and politics.

Lawless is available to discuss:
*Women's issues
*Candidate performance
*Voter expectations
*The importance of the debate

Anita McBride, School of Public Affairs executive in residence at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, previously served as assistant to President George W. Bush and chief of staff to First Lady Laura Bush. McBride supported Mrs. Bush's efforts involving U.S. foreign policy objectives in human rights, women's empowerment, global health and human freedom. McBride also served in the George H.W. Bush and Reagan administrations.

McBride is available to discuss:
*How candidates distinguish themselves
*The spouse's role in a presidential campaign
*The large field of GOP candidates

Debate Results
Leonard Steinhorn, public communication professor, is an expert in American politics, culture and media, strategic communication, the presidency, and recent American history.

Steinhorn is available to discuss:
*The full breakdown of the debate
*Who wins, who loses,who benefited, who didn't;who surprised, who disappointed;who made the most cogent points, and who fell flat.

Media &The Debate
Jane Hall, journalism and media studies professor, specializes in media and politics, particularly issues of special interest to young people, and popular culture. She is moderator and executive producer for the long-running American Forum radio and TV series in Washington, D.C. She is also a regular commentator on media and politics on cable TV and in print. 

Hall is available to discuss:
*Media coverage of the debates and also how they're being conducted
*Impact and role of debates
*Candidates' media coverage including Donald Trump
*Media coverage of female candidates
*Young people and their relationship to media and views on politics

Social Media &The Debate
Scott Talan, professor of public &strategic communication, is an expert in social media and personal branding. He has been a writer, producer, and reporter for numerous media organizations, including ABC News/Good Morning America.

Talan is available to discuss:
*Social media reaction
*What messages resonated with social media users
*Trending debate topics

Domestic Issues

Common Core/Education
Constance Lindsay
, professorial Lecturer in the School of Public Affairs at American University, focuses her research on K-12 education. Lindsay has worked in education policy in various contexts, applying her research training both in traditional studies and also in the creation of new systems and policies regarding teachers. Her research also includes support to a study of a collectively bargained teacher pay-for-performance system, the Using Data Professional Development Study. Most recently, Lindsay was responsible for implementing SB-51, the teacher preparation legislation passed in July 2013 by the Delaware legislature as the Deputy Officer for Educator Preparation at the Delaware Department of Education.

Lindsay is available to discuss:
*Common Core
*K-12 educationWomen's Issues

Jessica Waters, a faculty member in the Department of Justice, Law and Criminology in American University's School of Public Affairs and an adjunct faculty member at the Washington College of Law, search focuses primarily on reproductive rights law and other women's issues.

Waters is available to discuss:
*Women's issues
*Reproductive rights issues
*The impact of the election on the courts

Foreign Affairs

Israel/Middle East Peace Process

Guy Ziv, School of International Service assistant professor of U.S. foreign policy focuses on foreign policy decision-making, and the role of political elites in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Ziv is the author of Why Hawks Become Doves: Shimon Peres and Foreign Policy Change in Israel.

Ziv is available to discuss:
*How will candidates and constituents handle the Netanyahu government and its lack of commitment to a two state peace process?
*What role does U.S.-Israeli relations play in presidential politics especially after strained relations with the Obama administration? *How do GOP candidates differ on their Israel/Middle East policies

Terrorism, Syria, Iran
Joe Young
, School of International Service and School of Public Affairs associate professor, is an expert in cross-national causes and consequences of political violence and extremism.

Young is available to discuss:
*Syrian Civil War


American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.