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University Relations

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Jan. 19, 2006
Contact: Jonathan Earle, Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, (785) 864-4900.

Eleanor Clift, 2 former women governors join ‘First Woman President’ lecture series

LAWRENCE — Nationally known journalist Eleanor Clift and two former women governors will join the University of Kansas Dole Institute of Politics’ 2006 Presidential Lecture Series on “The First Woman President.”

Clift, author of Madam President: Women Blazing the Leadership Trail, will speak at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12, and former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and former Gov. Jane Swift, R-Mass., will appear in a roundtable discussion moderated by political activist Barbara Lee at 7.30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28.

“Eleanor Clift literally wrote the book on the subject, and experts like Barbara Lee suggest that the first woman to be elected to the White House will come from the ranks of the nation’s governors — despite all the recent press about Senator Hillary Clinton and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,” said Jonathan Earle, the Dole Institute’s associate director for programming. “These programs will tell us a lot about who the first woman U.S. president might be and how she will win.”

The lecture series kicks off Tuesday, Feb. 7, with Carol Moseley-Braun, who was the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate and was U.S. ambassador to New Zealand before her 2004 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. She will speak at 8 p.m.

Pollsters Celinda Lake and Kellyanne Conway will discuss their book What Women Want in the context of presidential politics at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14. Lake, a Democrat, and Conway, a Republican, are highly respected pollsters who have worked for a number of campaigns and causes.

All the lectures take place at the institute, located adjacent to the Lied Center on KU’s west campus. Each lecture is free and open to the public. No reservation or ticket is required.

Clift is a contributing editor at Newsweek who regularly reports on the White House, Congress and the diverse personalities who make up the Washington power structure.

She started as Newsweek’s White House correspondent in 1976 and held the position through President Reagan’s first term. She returned to the White House beat in 1992. Clift has appeared on many national television shows, including “The McLaughlin Group,” “Good Morning America,” NBC’s “Today Show,” CNN’s “Crossfire” and “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.” Playing herself as a member of the McLaughlin Group, she has appeared in several movies, including “Independence Day,” “Rising Sun,” “Murder at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue” and “Dave.”

Madam President, which Clift co-authored with her late husband,Tom Brazaitis, has been called a “sharp insider’s view of the quest to elect a female U.S. President.” The authors assert that women win as often as men when they run, if they can get over what they term the “fund-raising hurdle,” which stops many campaigns before they start. From the election of Margaret Thatcher in England to Elizabeth Dole’s 2000 run for the Republican presidential nomination, Clift and Brazaitis explore the catalysts that have spurred women to challenge the “old boy network” in politics.

Lee heads the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, which initiates and supports projects to help women gain and use their political power. A former school teacher and social worker, she is also the driving force behind the Governor’s Guidebook series that combines research with a nationally distributed practical guide for women candidates seeking executive office. The guidebook series includes Keys to the Governor’s Office Unlock the Door: The Guide for Women Running for Governor (2001), Speaking with Authority: From Economic Security to National Security (2002) and the newest addition, Cracking the Code: Political Intelligence for Women Running for Governor (2004).

Shaheen, a Missouri native, became New Hampshire’s first woman governor in 1996 and was the first Democrat elected to that office in 16 years. She was re-elected in 1998 and 2000, becoming only the fourth governor in New Hampshire history elected to three consecutive terms. She was named national chair of Sen. John Kerry’s presidential campaign in September 2003 and is given major credit for rejuvenating the campaign. In 2005, she succeeded former Kansas congressman Dan Glickman as the director of the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Swift was acting governor of Massachusetts from 2001 to 2003 and the only woman to serve as the state’s governor. In May 2001, she became the first governor of any state to give birth while in office, continuing to exercise executive authority during her maternity leave, including chairing a meeting of the Governor’s Council by teleconference from her hospital bed. Since 2003, Swift has been a General Partner at Arcadia Partners, the leading venture capital firm focused exclusively on the for-profit education industry. She is active in her community, serving as the treasurer for the Williamstown (Mass.) Cooperative Nursery School, a board member on the Williamstown Elementary School Endowment and on the Community Outreach board for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams.


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