Institute Offers Inside Look at American Election Campaign

Institute Offers Inside Look at American Election Campaign

By Reid Oslin
Staff Writer

Days after the United States mid-term elections, officials from 11 major political parties in Ireland and Northern Ireland visited Boston College to begin studying the strategies and tactics of American political campaigns.

The 10-day political communications program, sponsored by the Irish Institute of the Center for Irish Programs, brought communication directors, policy managers and development officers from Ireland's major political groups to Boston where they met with key local political operatives and several BC political science faculty members.

Participants also were given an up-close view of the workings of state and national political campaigns.

"We are using this opportunity to highlight the work of American political campaigns, not the political issues from home," said Irish Institute Director Colm O'Comartun.

"The most important part of any political campaign is to get your candidate elected, and we wanted to show them how their American peers do their jobs," he said.

Included in campus sessions were consultations with strategy-makers from the campaigns of Mitt Romney and Shannon O'Brien, who earlier this month squared off in the hotly contested election for Massachusetts governor.

The group - which returned home on Nov. 19 - also studied the strategies and results of several other Massachusetts elections at the state and local level.

After two days on campus, the group traveled to Washington, DC, where participants discussed coordination of political policy and message on a national scale, as well as crisis communication strategies and media relations.

In the nation's capital, the Irish officials exchanged ideas with a number of influential political figures, including Barry Jackson, a deputy assistant to President Bush and director of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives; Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley; Andrew Grossman, political director of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee; Irish Ambassador to the United States Noel Fahey and officials from the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington.

The group also met with Mike McCurry, press secretary to President Bill Clinton from 1995-1998, and current CEO of Grassroots Enterprises, a provider of Internet-based advocacy management and communications software that enables organizations to measure their impact on public policy.

O'Comartun said that many recent Irish election campaigns have taken an American approach to politics, with an emphasis on the leadership potential of a specific candidate. "The American model has been a stimulant, a catalyst, for ideas reflecting [Irish] hopes and expectations in a political campaign," he said.

"We are bringing people together to learn from each other."

 

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