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CNN contributor, former Clinton adviser Paul Begala pushes voting to CMU students

CNN Contributor Paul Begala speaks with fans after “2012 Elections: Today’s Issues and Tomorrow’s Ramifications” Thursday evening in Anspach Hall.
(Jeffrey Smith/Staff Photographer)

CNN contributor and Democratic strategist Paul Begala used humor and inside stories to inform students of their importance in the upcoming election.

Begala, a former adviser in the Bill Clinton administration, was brought to campus by the political science department to discuss the issues of the 2012 election and the changes they would bring.

He said students are not only powerful with their vote, but are also powerful with their influence.

“Your fresh eyes on the issues in the election can change the views of us old people,” Begala said. “You guys can run the government, but people who are older than you don’t always let you in on that.”

Begala’s message to young people was simple: they need to vote in the upcoming election, or they are letting their country be run by someone else.

“I think it’s un-American to not vote. Our country was founded because we didn’t want someone else running it,” he said. “Show up, vote and you’re doing your part in running the biggest superpower in the world.”

Begala used an analogy to explain the importance of voting to students. He talked about how people years ago put money toward the university so students today could have a better education. In Begala’s eyes, when people go vote, they are making the nation better for the people who will follow them in the future.

Begala also used the stark differences in the 2008 and 2010 elections to show the power of young voters.

“Because your age group decided to vote, Barak Obama is president,” he said. “The Republicans won 63 seats in 2010. That happened because six out of 10 young people in 2008 decided not to vote in 2010.”

Along with addressing the need for young voters, he spoke about many other issues surrounding the election.

Begala stressed the issue of compromise among opposing parties.

“If you can’t say that you love and respect someone with opposing views than you, then self-governance is not for you,” he said.

He also explained the intricacies in successes by both presidential candidates.

Along with his views of the election, Begala also shared stories of his interactions with President Clinton and President George W. Bush.

He ended his talk with a question and answer session with the crowd of more than 200 people in Anspach Hall.

Orlando Perez, political science chairman, was pleased with Begala’s presentation.

“I thought it was very successful. I thought Begala’s talk was entertaining, informative and it was very lively,” Perez said. “The whole thing was wonderful.”

Perez hoped the talk made students aware of their importance in the election.

“I hope that they listened and realized how important of a part they play in this election,” he said.

Begala echoed the hopes of Perez.

“I hope students will get on Facebook and talk to their friends so they can get people involved with politics,” he said. “I’d much rather someone vote than sitting around watching TV. Voting is the most important thing you can be doing with your time.”


  1. For $17,500 CMU brings a paid Obama campaign advisor to campus so he and the Chairman of the Political Science Department can tell college students that they should vote. Each of them must have said, “#%@^, why didn’t I think of that?

  2. michmediaperson says:

    Only 200 showed. That means 99 percent of students, staff, professors and the community elected to do something more constructive with their evening like go to the Libary, watch the Tigers in the World Series, watch an NFL game,etc.
    Maybe, we only have 200 Democrats at CMU?
    That $17,500 means tuition goes up for next year.
    Orlando Perez has to be disappointed with such a small turnout. Probably most or all of the 200 are voting Democrat anyway since they showed up to see a Democrat.
    Note the paragraph about how the youth didn’t vote in 2010 so 63 Republicans got elected. What’s wrong with the Republicans we elected?

  3. Paul Begala was a great speaker and those in attendance thoroughly enjoyed his presentation. For a department sponsored event it was a great success. Hopefully more departments and organizations at CMU will be given support and encouragement to bring in speakers relevant to their disciplines.

  4. michmediaperson says:

    fizzgig: 1 percent isn’t worth the money. You could have done a satellite feed for free. Ron Paul drew 2000 people and we didn’t have to pay him.
    Since you want more speakers, do you want a equal number of diverse speakers—-liberal and conservative, or only radical liberal like CMU always pays for?

  5. As a conservative student attending this event, I was skeptical about the views of Paul Begala and had entered the audience feeling very aware of my minority status as a Republican. While Begala was clear what his political views were, he was far more focused on encouraging young people to vote regardless of their political preferences, than persuading the room to vote for Obama. He even stated that he would prefer us to vote for Romney than to stay home and not vote at all. His efforts to engage young people were certainly appreciated by myself and many other students who I spoke with following the event. He was a dynamic speaker and his mixture of comedy and true statistics made him a great selection for the Political Science department. It was great to see such a variety of students, faculty, and community members in the audience and I think Begala managed to speak to us all. It was a great event, one that I am glad to say that I was able to be a part of.

  6. michmediaperson: you are so full of shit it isn’t even funny any more….Ron Paul drew about 1450 (…. Ron Paul was running for president! The big crowds did him a lot of good…did them….
    Second, Pail Begala’s AN 161 holds about 300 and it was full! The event was a huge success!! Big front page headline in CM Life!!
    There’s been plenty of balance. You just mentioned Ron Paul (libertarian nut) and we just recently had Herman Cain (Republican nut…9, 9. 9)…..
    Pat Buchanan has been on campus, etc, etc….
    Plenty of balance….
    Get over it: Paul Begala was a huge sucess!! If that is what they paid him, well worth the $$$!!!

    • michmediaperson says:

      You should get your facts straight. CMU didn’t pay for Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Pat Buchanan. Tell me one conservative Republican CMU, the Multicultural/Diversity Dept., the College of liberal Humanities has ever paid for.

      Over the past 10 years, either CMU, CMU Speaker Series, the Multicultural and Diversity Department, the Political Science Dept., the College of Liberal Humanities have paid for and shoved down the throats of CMU students such Liberal-loving Obama socialists/Democrats such as Michael Moore, Robin Roberts, Ward Churchill, Morris Dees, Kal Penn, Dick Gregory, Paul Gregory, Lori Guinier, Ron Jeremy, Kwame Kilpatrick, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, John Lewis, Paul Begala. I know I’m missing many more. Looks like we’re owed the next 14 or so speakers.

      Tell me how many the Political Science Dept or their College of Liberal humanities or the Multicultural/’Diversity Dept. have paid for conservative Romney loving Republicans???? There aren’t any. CMU won’t bring in anyone but extreme left-wingers.

      Instead of Begala, bring in Karl Rove. Karl actually headed up 2 successful presidential campaigns and appears on O’Reilly and Hannity which gets 6 times more ratings than CNN that Begala is on. Maybe, that’s why only 200 or so showed up. No one knows who Paul Begala is.

      • I never said Ron Paul or Herman Cain were paid….who cares! No one would pay for them to come anyway, maybe that is why they have to do it for free….

  7. The president spent most of the day today doing interviews with media aimed at young voters — currently a key (if not the key) thrust of his campaign. Paul Begala is certainly smart enough to try to not appear totally partisan, but make no mistake about it his presentation fits very nicely into this game plan. To think otherwise is either naive or complicit on the part of the participants and, more worrisome, the leadership of the political science department.

  8. I cannot believe CMU paid thousands of taxpayer dollars for him to come and speak to 200 students. What an utter waste of money. On top of that, he used the event to enrich himself by selling books. Unbelievable. The school could have had a Democratic and Republican congressman — or the state party chairmen of the Dems and Repubs — come and debate for free. And I guarantee it would have turned out more people.

  9. chipskeptic says:

    So the Political Science department paid $17,000 to bring a left wing political hack to campus. (Perhaps because he agrees with the department?) They in essence made an in-kind contribution to the Obama campaign. When are they going to spend $17,000 to bring a conservative to the campus? Oh, the 12th of never! Well, there is that ideological balance for you…..

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