Oct. 29 update: Due to weather, the 2012 electorate roundtable featuring Eleanor Clift and other journalists, scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 7:30 p.m., has been cancelled.

2012 Electorate: Who they are and how they vote

BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 19, 2012 -- Exactly one week before Election Day, Virginia Tech will play host to a group of renowned journalists and writers who will discuss the “2012 Electorate: Who They Are and How They Vote.”

The Eleanor Clift Roundtable will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at 7:30 p.m. in the Graduate Life Center auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Clift, a political commentator and advocate for women’s professional lives, writes for Newsweek and the Daily Beast website. Clift has covered every presidential campaign since 1976. She has written about politics and policy in Washington, and the partisan clashes that are the result of a divided government.

An astute group of panelists including Pulitzer Prize winner Clarence Page, political strategist Simon Rosenberg, demographics specialist Ruy Teixeira, elections analyst Sean Trende, and Virginia Tech’s own University Distinguished Professor of English Nikki Giovanni, will join Clift. Robert E. Denton Jr., head of the Department of Communication, will serve as moderator.

This event is supported by the newly established Eleanor Clift Endowment for Leadership Excellence in Women's and Gender Studies at Virginia Tech and is sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies program in the Department of Sociology in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech.  This endowment pays tribute to Clift’s distinguished commitment to women in the professions and honors her extraordinary career as she moved from secretary, to research, to reporter.

“Eleanor Clift is an inspiration to our students,” said Katy Powell, director of the Women’s and Gender Studies program. “When she visited Virginia Tech earlier this year, she shared stories about her experiences as one of the first women reporters at Newsweek.”

About the panelists

Today, Clift is a regular panelist on the syndicated talk show, “The McLaughlin Group.” She has appeared as herself in several movies, including “Dave,” “Independence Day,” “Murder at 1600,” “Rising Sun,” and the CBS series, “Murphy Brown.” Clift and her late husband, Tom Brazaitis, who was a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, wrote two books together. Clift’s book, “Founding Sisters,’ is about the passage of the 19th amendment giving the women the vote. She authored “Two Weeks of Life: A Memoir of Love, Death and Politics," which follows the loss of her husband and examines how Americans deal with death.  “Selecting a President,” which was written with Matthew Spieler, was published in May and is intended as a high school or college freshman civics text.

Page, syndicated columnist and senior member of The Chicago Tribune editorial board, was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for his commentary. Page is also a regular contributor of essays to “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer” and has been a regular on “The McLaughlin Group,” NBC's “The Chris Matthews Show,” ABC's “Nightline” and BET's “Lead Story” news panel programs.

Rosenberg, founder of the New Democrat Network, is an experienced television news producer, and a highly regarded political strategist and thinker. He has spent more than 20 years in national media and politics and is a veteran of two presidential campaigns, including a leading role in the Clinton War Room. In his current capacity, he advises administration officials and policy makers on a wide range of issues.

Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at both The Century Foundation and American Progress. He is also a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, where he has directed projects on political demography and geography. He is the author or co-author of seven books, and his recent writings include “The Path to 270: Demographics Versus Economics in the 2012 Presidential Election” (with John Halpin).

Trende is the senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics. He is the author of “The Lost Majority: Why The Future Of Government Is Up For Grabs And Who Will Take It,” and will coauthor the forthcoming “Almanac of American Politics 2014.” Before becoming a full-time political analyst, Trende practiced law for eight years, representing clients in a variety of contexts, from state trial courts to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Giovanni is a world-renowned poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator, and has received many awards, including the Rosa L. Parks Woman of Courage Award, several NAACP Image Awards, and the Langston Hughes Medal for poetry. The author of 30-plus books, Giovanni often pairs politics in her poetry and prose.

Denton’s area of scholarship is political communication to include media and politics, political campaigns, and presidential discourse. Denton, the W. Thomas Rice Chair for Leadership Studies, is the author, co-author, or editor of 23 books, and most recently produced an edited volume entitled, “The 2012 Presidential Campaign: A Communication Perspective.”



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