Eisenhower Institute holds Fielding Fellows panel

2015-2016 EI Fellows with Mr. Fielding Photo credit: Eisenhower Institue

2015-2016 EI Fellows with Mr. Fielding
Photo credit: Eisenhower Institute

By Benjamin Pontz, Events Coverage Coordinator

Joseph Theater could barely contain the excitement in the room. By the 7:30 p.m. start time, there were few open seats at the Eisenhower Institute’s first panel of the year, titled “Policy or Personality: The Key to Swing Voters,” which was held Tuesday, Oct. 4.  Featuring three panelists from the world of politics, an hour long panel discussion was followed by a half-hour question and answer session on issues pertaining to the upcoming election.

The panelists were: Alexis Simendinger, an experienced Washington journalist presently serving as the White House Correspondent for RealClearPolitics, who shared her experiences covering the past several presidential administrations and called this “an election unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”

John Baer, a political columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News who has won numerous statewide and national awards for political journalism. He provided insight on campaign strategy, the news cycle and political polarization.

Kat Atwater, a 2007 Gettysburg alumna who serves as the chief of staff of BlueLabs, a firm that focuses on polling, fundraising and communication. She discussed issues that drive voters to the polls, turnout and political advertisements.

The panel was conducted “off the record” to allow panelists to speak more freely about issues pertaining to the upcoming election and share uncensored opinions. Two Fielding Fellows, seniors Mariam Aghayan and Taylor Beck, moderated the discussion and the ensuing question and answer session. Topics of discussion included the enthusiasm gap between supporters of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the perception that Clinton’s election is inevitable and how that can hurt her and the potential for a close election decided by voter turnout. First-year Elay Echavarria said of the panel, “I definitely was introduced to some new ideas I wasn’t thinking about before, particularly when they were talking about whether this would be a high voter turnout or low voter turnout election.”

At about 8:50 the discussion was promptly adjourned to allow the political junkies in the room to go watch the vice presidential debate.

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Author: Benjamin Pontz

Benjamin Pontz '20 serves as news editor of The Gettysburgian, a position he has held since the middle of his first year, during which he wrote 50 articles on topics ranging from student activism on campus to sports. Ben also served as the event coverage and social media coordinator and led the paper's inaugural efforts using Facebook Live and live tweeting events on campus. He is a political science and public policy double major with a minor in music, and he reads up to seven newspapers daily. Follow him on Twitter @benpontz.

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