Point/Counterpoint – Featuring Political Strategists David Axelrod and Karl Rove, sponsored by the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership, is free and open to the public. Designed to provide and promote civil, non-partisan and thought provoking conversation about election polling and strategy, politicians and presidents, red and blue culture, the state of our democracy, the media and more.
David Axelrod is a preeminent American political strategist and commentator and the former chief strategist and senior advisor to President Barack Obama. Axelrod currently serves as the founding director of the University of Chicago’s non-partisan Institute of Politics and as a senior political commentator for CNN. He is the host of “The Axe Files,” a top-rated podcast featuring in depth conversations with public figures across the political spectrum. A televised version of the show airs monthly on CNN. A former political writer for the Chicago Tribune, Axelrod produced media strategy and advertising for 150 campaigns across the U.S., culminating in President Obama’s historic elections. Axelrod is also the author of The New York Times best-selling memoir, Believer: My Forty Years in Politics.
Karl Rove, an iconic political strategist and one of the most sought-after political pundits of our time, is best known for his provocative and robust knowledge of the major political issues of the day. Rove served as Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush from 2000–2007 and Deputy Chief of Staff from 2004–2007. At the White House he oversaw the Offices of Strategic Initiatives, Political Affairs, Public Liaison, and Intergovernmental Affairs and was Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, coordinating the White House policy-making process. Rove has been described by respected author and columnist Michael Barone in U.S. News & World Report as “…unique…no Presidential appointee has ever had such a strong influence on politics and policy, and none is likely to do so again anytime soon.” Washington Post columnist David Broder has called Rove a master political strategist whose “game has always been long term…and he plays it with an intensity and attention to detail that few can match.” Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard, has called him “the greatest political mind of his generation and probably of any generation… He knows history, understands the moods of the public, and is a visionary on matters of public policy.” Mr. Rove writes a weekly op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, appears frequently on the Fox News Channel, and is the author of the New York Times best seller, Courage and Consequence. His latest book is The Triumph of William McKinley: Why the Election of 1886 Still Matters. A Colorado native, he attended the University of Utah, the University of Maryland-College Park, George Mason University, and the University of Texas at Austin.
Mike Gousha (Moderator), serves as a distinguished fellow in law and public policy at Marquette University Law School. An award-winning journalist, Gousha explores important public policy issues through his work at the Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education. He is the host of the Law School’s “On the Issues” conversation series, and has been the sole moderator of numerous political debates held at the Law School, including the final debate of Wisconsin’s historic 2012 recall election for Governor. In addition to his work at Marquette, Gousha recently completed an 11-year stint as a contributing anchor and political analyst at WISN-TV in Milwaukee, where he hosted the statewide political program, “UpFront with Mike Gousha.”
The Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership provides a multi-disciplinary, non-partisan environment to study, discuss, and improve leadership. Students, faculty members, policymakers, and other relevant stakeholders come together to share knowledge and learn about successful public leadership. We pledge to pursue leadership, to foster collegiality, and to be problem-solvers.