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State of the Union Address: AU Experts Available

Several American University professors are available for comment regarding President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address on Tuesday, January 25.  For availability and contact information, please call AU’s Communications Office at 202-885-5950 or email at

Leonard Steinhorn, an expert on the presidency, political campaigns and communication, and the media’s role in politics and elections, can discuss the politics of the speech, what President Obama ought to include, and how well the speech was delivered and received.  Steinhorn, a professor in AU’s School of Communication, is a former congressional speechwriter, press secretary, and policy advisor. He and fellow professor Robert Lehrman (see below) founded PunditWire, a forum for political speechwriters to share their takes on politics and current events.

Robert Lehrman, an expert on political speechwriting, teaches speechwriting and public speaking at AU’s School of Communication. The author of the 2009 book The Political Speechwriter’s Companion: A Guide for Writers and Speakers, Lehrman is the former chief speechwriter to vice president Al Gore and to other figures and organizations including the Democratic National Committee, the chairman and CEO of Pfizer Inc., and a variety of other public figures, including celebrities. Lehrman is writing a 3,200-word cover story about the State of the Union address for The Christian Science Monitor Sunday magazine that will be published two days before President Obama delivers the address.   

James Thurber, director of AU’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, is an expert in presidential-congressional relations, the congressional budget process, and congressional reform. His book, Obama in Office: The First Two Years, the first academic assessment of Obama’s first years in office will be released in March by Paradigm Publishers.

Danny Hayes is an expert in political behavior and political communication in American politics; public opinion; political participation, and the media. Hayes and his students in his Politics in the U.S., course will be watching for why particular themes were chosen, and how these will shape what become priorities in Congress.

Dotty Lynch is director of the political communication graduate program and a political consultant for CBS News.  She stepped down at the end of 2005 as the senior political editor of CBS News, where she covered politics for 20 years. She is an expert on survey research, polling, campaigns and elections, women in politics and journalism. Her students will meet to watch the speech and the Republican Party’s response and will analyze both for an assignment.  

Jennifer Lawless, director of AU’s Women and Politics Institute, is available to comment on women and politics, the shift in congressional control and public opinion. Her research focuses on gender politics and she is currently teaching a course on public opinion.

Allan J. Lichtman, professor of history, is a leading expert on presidential and congressional campaigns, public opinion and political history.  Obama's reelection in 2012 is nearly guaranteed according to Lichtman’s “13 Keys” system which predicts the outcome of the popular vote based on the performance of the party and not the use of candidate preference polls, campaign tactics, or events.  

Connie Morella, ambassador in residence of AU’s Women & Politics Institute, is a former Maryland congresswoman (1987-2003). She joined AU in 2009 and teaches Women, Politics, and Public Policy among other special topics. While in Congress, Morella successfully initiated legislation addressing domestic violence and child support, as well as programs for the elderly, environmental protection, health care reform, and human rights issues.  

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