Campaign 2016: Personalities, Politics & Predictions

An SMPA Silver Anniversary Event
Wed, 16 September, 2015 7:00pm

SMPA hosted a lively and incredibly frank and witty panel to discuss Campaign 2016 to date. Moderated by Meet the Press host and SMPA National Council Member Chuck Todd, the discussion centered around how the antics and strategy of populist candidate Donald Trump was shifting the methodology of campaigning in real time with his relentless use of Twitter and "always on the record" stance with the media. How his tactics will ultimately impact the Presidency and campaign communication strategy was up for discussion and debate and the opinions and predictions were fascinating. Questions from the students in audience triggered thoughtful and intelligent responses from the panel, all of whom have their finger on American politics, strategy and media.


Chuck Todd is moderator of Meet the Press and the Political Director of NBC News. Previously, he was Chief White House Correspondent for NBC News, and hosted The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. He is a member of SMPA's National Council and attended GW.

Frank Farenkopf gained national prominence during the 1980s when he served as chairman of the Republican Party for six of President Ronald Reagan's eight years in the White House (1983 to 1989). He presently is co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, which conducts the general election presidential and vice presidential debates in presidential election years. He currently serves as an SMPA Terker Fellow. 

Paul Wilson is Chairman and CEO of Wilson Grand Communications a television and digital communications company with offices in Alexandria, Virginia and Berkeley, CA. The firm will be 30 years old in March of 2016. Mr. Wilson has participated at various levels in six presidential campaigns. The firm clients include Congressman Paul Ryan, Sen. John Hoeven, Sen. Pat Roberts, Governor Sam Brownback and numerous other Republican office holders and SuperPACs. He serves on the SMPA National Council.

Amy Walter is the National Editor of The Cook Political Report where she provides analysis of the issues, trends and events that shape the political environment. Her weekly column appears at She is also an exclusive panelist on NBC’s Meet the Press and a regular panelist on PBS’ Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier. Walter is an SMPA Terker Fellow this year. 

Cornell Belcher is President of brilliant corners Research & Strategies and is one of the premier strategists in national progressive politics as well as in the rebranding of corporate America. In addition to being a 2015 Harvard Kennedy School Visiting Fellow, he is also a former political contributor to CNN, having provided political analysis to them for six years. Cornell served as Pollster for the Democratic National Committee under Chairman Howard Dean making him the first minority to lead in that role for either national Party. He also served on the polling team for both Obama presidential campaigns. He serves on the SMPA National Council.

Mara Liasson, former SMPA Terker Fellow, is the national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines All Things Considered and Morning Edition. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC — focusing on the White House and Congress — and also reports on political trends. Prior to her current assignment, Liasson was NPR's White House correspondent for all eight years of the Clinton administration. She has won the White House Correspondents Association's Merriman Smith Award for daily news coverage in 1994, 1995, and again in 1997. 


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