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AU Experts Available for State of the Union Analysis

Contact: American University Communications, 202-885-5950,

WHO: American University experts

WHAT: President Obama's State of the Union 2015 Speech

WHEN: January 14 - ongoing

WHERE: In–studio, on campus, via telephone

President Obama's State of the Union speech will set the tone for his last two years in office and is perhaps the most important in setting an agenda before the race for 2016 heats up. American University experts are available to discuss the speechmaking process;prominent domestic and foreign policy issues highlighted in the speech;and historical traditions underpinning the event.

Speech, Political Communication and Media Experts

Robert Lehrman
, public communication professor, is former chief speechwriter for Vice President Al Gore, author of the The Political Speechwriter's Companion (CQPress 2009), and one of America's leading experts on political and presidential speech. Lerhman can speak authoritatively about what Obama might say in this year's SOTU, what he's likely to achieve, and how his approach compares and contrasts with other presidents.

Leonard Steinhorn is a professor of Public Communication and History. Steinhorn says, "The State of Union will be the first chess move between an emboldened President Obama and an emboldened Republican majority in Congress. Each side will be vying to set the national agenda and framing their policies as best for the economy, the future, and the American Dream." Steinhorn expects President Obama to address such issues as immigration, education, jobs, taxes, the environment, and national security. He says the upcoming SOTU "will set the stage for the next political drama ahead -- the 2016 presidential election."

Immigration Expert

Alan Kraut
, professor of history, can discuss U.S. immigration issues. Kraut is a non-resident fellow of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., chairs the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island History Advisory Committee and is a consultant to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. He is an historical consultant and the prize-winning author or editor of nine books and numerous scholarly articles. Kraut can speak to the history of immigration policy reform in the United States and how the current debate echoes those of earlier eras. He can also explain how the experiences of migrants currently arriving in large numbers such as Asians and Latinos compare to the experiences of European groups who arrived in large numbers in the last two centuries.

Presidential History Experts

Allan Lichtman
, distinguished professor of history, is an expert on the presidency, American political history, presidential campaigns, voting behavior, and public opinion. Lichtman is renowned for his "13 Keys" system which has consistently predicted presidential winners. Lichtman can comment on legislative priorities and the significance of the speech as Obama heads into his final two years in office.

Anita McBride, executive in residence, most recently served as chief of staff to First Lady Laura Bush and served in the last three Republican administrations. McBride runs the First Ladies' program and is a fellow in American University's Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies. McBride can discuss the tradition of the First Lady box and the message the administration tries to convey.

Presidential Authority Expert

Chris Edelson,
assistant professor of government in the School of Public Affairs, focuses his research on constitutional interpretation, presidential power, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Edelson, a leading expert on presidential authority and author of Emergency Presidential Power: From the Drafting of the Constitution to the War on Terror, is available to discuss whether President Obama is overstepping his authority through executive action and if Congress failing to defend its authority.

Domestic Policy/Politics Experts

James Thurber
is the director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies. Thurber is an expert on campaigns and elections, presidential-congressional relations, and author of Obama in Office (2011). Thurber can address what the Obama administration and Congress can accomplish, the power of the veto or mere veto threat, and the prospects for gridlock over the next two years.

Jennifer Lawless, director of the Women and Politics Institute, is a nationally recognized expert on women's involvement in politics and women's issues. Her latest book is Becoming a Candidate: Political Ambition and the Decision to Run for Office (2012). Lawless can address speech highlights, constituencies, and issue groups.

Connie Morella, ambassador in residence, represented Maryland's 8th district in Congress from 1987 to 2003. In Congress, Morella was a well-known moderate. In addition to teaching at American University, Ambassador Morella is the president of the United States Association of Former Members of Congress. Morella can speak about how the new Republican Congress will work with President Obama and prospects for specific legislation to find consensus rather than compromise on immigration, free trade agreements, tax reform, Cuba normalization and other priority issues. Morella can also speak to how different constituencies --women, Hispanics, African Americans and others—hear the SOTU.

Richard Benedetto is a professor of professor of journalism. Benedetto can talk about President Obama's accelerated drive in the face of a Republican Congress to avoid being labeled a "lame duck" in his final two years in office. Benedetto says, "Ever since the election he has assumed a more aggressive stance and believes he can still beat the Republicans at their own game by staying on the offensive. Look for that theme to permeate the State of the Union, as it already has in his outings since returning from vacation. The President is very determined to stick to his game plan."

Foreign Policy Experts

Gordon Adams
, professor of U.S. foreign policy, served as the associate director for national security at the Office of Management and Budget, the senior White House official for national security and foreign policy budgets. Adams is available to discuss the federal budget, defense budget, ISIS, Cuba, Russia, and the U.S. military's role in Iraq and Afghanistan.

James Goldgeier, School of International Service dean, is an expertise on contemporary international relations, American foreign policy, U.S.-Russia relations, the European Union, transatlantic security and NATO. Goldgeier is available to discuss Russia and Ukraine among other U.S. foreign policy issues that President Obama may mention in the SOTU.

Carl LeVan, assistant professor in the School of International Service, is author of Dictators and Democracy in African Development: The Political Economy of Good Governance in Nigeria (Cambridge 2015). LeVan is available to discuss the renewal of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, the political impact of declining oil prices, and Boko Haram's terrorist activity should President Obama single them out in the SOTU.

Economy &International Political Economy Experts

Gabe Mathy's
research and teaching interests are focused on the macroeconomics of the Great Depression, and on macroeconomics and economic history more generally. Mathy can discuss the economy's recovery and job growth, which recently has been similarly strong. He can also discuss implications of low oil prices and inequality of income.

Miles Kahler, distinguished professor in the School of International Service, is an expert on international politics and international political economy, including international monetary cooperation, global governance, and regional institutions. Kahler is available to comment on global economic issues, Europe and the Eurozone in addition to major multilateral institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, and WTO which may come up during President Obama's SOTU. Kahler can also speak to President Obama's trip to India following the SOTU.

Environment Experts

Dan Fiorino
, director of the Center for Environmental Policyis available to discuss President Obama's environmental proposals including the EPA's coal plant standards, climate action policy, and Keystone XL pipeline standoff with Congress.

Alexander Golub teaches in the environmental science department. Golub has a Ph.D. in mathematical economics and 20 years of experience in energy and climate change with particular focus on climate economics and environmental finance, application of instruments for risk analysis and innovative financial tools for building global environmental markets. Golub says low energy prices will mitigate the cost of transition to a carbon-constrained economy. Furthermore, he says: "Revenues from carbon tax or proceeds from auctioning carbon allowances could be used to reduce corporate taxes and individual income taxes. On contrary, the relatively modest price of carbon, $20-$25/tCO2, will create incentives to increase energy productivity of the U.S. economy, catalyze capital investment into modern technology and, as a result, speed up transition to a knowledge-based economy and secure steady economic growth in the 21st century."

Political Behavior Expert

Jan Leighley, government professor, focuses her research on American political behavior, voter turnout, media and politics, and racial/ethnic political behavior. She is co-author of the critically acclaimed book, Who Votes Now?: Demographics, Issues, Inequality, and Turnout in the United States which identifies the trend of the rich consistently voting more than the poor for the past four decades, and that voters are substantially more conservative in their economic views. Leighley is available to discuss proposals to address income inequality and how the issue may shape the 2016 election


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