The National Journal presents a panel of experts to analyze and compare the two leading candidates in the 2012 election. With the two nominees sharply diverging on key policy issues such as the economy, workplace policy and foreign policy, President Obama and Governor Romney will provide the American public with the starkest contrast since 1984 if not 1964.
Joel Benenson is the President of the Benenson Strategy Group, which he co-founded in 2000. He has served as a strategic analyst and adviser to heads of state, senior members of Congress and other national political leaders, business leaders, and major advocacy and charitable institutions.
Benenson offers clients a unique combination of communication expertise and an aggressive analytical approach to produce messaging strategies that work in the most difficult situations. His extensive experience, prior to his becoming a pollster in 1995, includes working as a political journalist for the Daily News in New York and serving as communications director for Gov. Mario Cuomo’s 1994 campaign. He was previously a vice president at the New York ad agency FCB.
Benenson was the lead pollster and a senior strategist for President Barack Obama during the 2008 election, and he continues in that role today. He has also been a pollster and strategist for U.S. senators, governors and mayors from around the country. He played an integral role as a pollster for the DCCC in 2006, when the Democrats won back the majority in the House of Representatives. The team Benenson was on won eight of 10 races, including three in which incumbents were defeated.
During his career, Benenson has worked directly on research projects for some of America’s most prominent CEOs, including Procter & Gamble’s A.G. Lafley, General Electric’s Jack Welch and AOL’s Bob Pittman. He has also helped guide corporate clients through some of the most notable communication challenges in the past decade. He was the lead strategic researcher for Procter & Gamble’s launch of Olestra, the fat substitute; he was instrumental in helping AOL manage its capacity crisis in the late ’90s; and he helped a New York City coalition block Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plans for an Olympic stadium in Manhattan.
Benenson is also the co-founder of iModerate Research Technologies, an innovative research company that uses highly trained moderators to conduct real-time surveys among online respondents. These one-on-one sessions provide deep analysis within quantitative surveys.
Robert L. Bixby is Executive Director of The Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to fiscal responsibility.
The Concord Coalition was founded in 1992 by former U.S. Senators Warren Rudman (R-NH) and the late Paul Tsongas (D-MA). Former Senator Bob Kerrey (D-NE) now serves as Co-Chair of the organization.
Mr. Bixby was named Executive Director of the Concord Coalition in 1999, after serving as the organization's Policy Director, National Field Director, and in other capacities since 1992. He frequently represents Concord's views on budget and entitlement reform policy at congressional hearings and in the national media.
Mr. Bixby has a bachelor's degree in political science from American University in Washington, D.C., a juris doctorate from George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Va., and a master's degree in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Prior to his work with the Concord Coalition Mr. Bixby practiced law and served as the Chief Staff Attorney of the Court of Appeals of Virginia.
Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, has more than 30 years of experience as a political journalist and editor in Washington, D.C., New England and Florida. Brown is the chief spokesman for the Florida, Ohio, Virginia and national polls and works with Doug Schwartz to develop, analyze and present the results of the polls.
He was previously a political reporter for United Press International, served as the White House correspondent and then political editor for Scripps Howard News Service in Washington, D.C., and also was the editor of the Insight section of the Orlando Sentinel.
Brown, who covered 11 national political conventions and presidential campaigns from 1976-96, has a BS in radio television news and an MS in journalism from Syracuse University. He was also a Neiman Fellow at Harvard.
Ronald Brownstein, a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of presidential campaigns, is Atlantic Media’s editorial director, in charge of long-term editorial strategy. He also writes a weekly column and regularly contributes other pieces for both National Journal and The Atlantic, and coordinates political coverage and activities across publications produced by Atlantic Media. Mr. Brownstein also writes for 2012 Decoded.
Prior to joining Atlantic Media, Brownstein was the national affairs columnist for the Los Angeles Times. He has also served as the Times' national political correspondent and the author of the weekly Washington Outlook column. Brownstein is a National Journal alumnus, having served as the magazine's White House and national politics correspondent from 1983-1986, and then as its west coast correspondent through 1989. He appears regularly on national television, including NBC, ABC, CBS, and MSNBC, and served as a political analyst for CNN from 1998 through 2004. His sixth and most recent book, The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America, was published by Penguin in November 2007.
Eliot A. Cohen
Eliot A. Cohen is the Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at the Johns Hopkins University. Cohen is the Director of the Strategic Studies Program at SAIS and has specialized in the Middle East, Persian Gulf, Iraq, arms control, and NATO. He is a member of the Project for the New American Century and "is one of the few teachers in the American academy to treat military history as a serious field" according to International Law scholar Ruth Wedgwood. He served as Counselor to the United States Department of State under Secretary Condoleezza Rice from 2007 to 2009.
Richard J. Danzig
Mr. Danzig was sworn in as the 71st Secretary of the Navy on November 16, 1998. He served as Under Secretary of the Navy between November 1993 and May 1997. In the period between these two jobs, he and his wife lived in Asia and Europe while Mr. Danzig served as a Traveling Fellow of the Center for International Political Economy and as an Adjunct Professor at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs.
Mr. Danzig was born in New York City in 1944. He received a B.A. degree from Reed College, a J.D. degree from Yale Law School, and Bachelor of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. Upon his graduation from law school, Mr. Danzig served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron White.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin has a distinguished record as an academic, policy adviser, and strategist. Currently he is the President of the American Action Forum and most recently was a Commissioner on the Congressionally-chartered Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Since 2001, he has served in a variety of important policy positions. During 2001-2002, he was the Chief Economist of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (where he had also served during 1989-1990 as a Senior Staff Economist). At CEA he helped to formulate policies addressing the 2000-2001 recession and the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. From 2003-2005 he was the 6th Director of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, which provides budgetary and policy analysis to the U.S. Congress. During his tenure, CBO assisted Congress as they addressed numerous policies -- notably the 2003 tax cuts (JGTRRA), the Medicare prescription drug bill (MMA), and Social Security reform. During 2007 and 2008 he was Director of Domestic and Economic Policy for the John McCain presidential campaign. Following the 2008 election Dr. Holtz-Eakin was the President of DHE Consulting, an economic and policy consulting firm providing insight and research to a broad cross-section of clients.
Dr. Holtz-Eakin has held positions in several Washington-based think tanks. He was Senior Fellow at the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics (2007-2008), and the Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies and the Paul A. Volcker Chair in International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations (2006). He has also been a visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, and American Family Business Foundation.
Dr. Holtz-Eakin built an international reputation as a scholar doing research in areas of applied economic policy, econometric methods, and entrepreneurship. He began his career at Columbia University in 1985 and moved to Syracuse University from 1990 to 2001. At Syracuse, he became Trustee Professor of Economics at the Maxwell School, Chairman of the Department of Economics and Associate Director of the Center for Policy Research.
Dr. Holtz-Eakin serves on the Boards of the Tax Foundation, National Economists Club, and the Research Advisory Board of the Center for Economic Development.
Adam Kushner is deputy editor of National Journal magazine. Prior to National Journal, he served as a senior editor at Newsweek, editing foreign coverage, including major projects such as a Berlin Wall retrospective and coverage of the 2010 World Cup. Earlier, Kushner covered ideas and trends for the foreign desk as a senior writer. From 2003 to 2007, Kushner held a variety of positions at The New Republic, including a post as Assistant Managing Editor and, ultimately, Managing Editor/Online. In that role, he managed all aspects of the site and oversaw a relaunch of TNR.com. Kushner is a graduate of Columbia University, and co-founded both the Columbia Political Review and the Columbia Journal of Literary Criticism during his time there. He is a native of New Orleans.
James M. Lindsay
James M. Lindsay is senior vice president, director of studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg chair at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) where he oversees the work of the more than five dozen fellows in the David Rockefeller Studies Program. He is a leading authority on the American foreign policymaking process and the domestic politics of American foreign policy.
Before returning to CFR in 2009, Dr. Lindsay was the inaugural director of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at The University of Texas at Austin, where he held the Tom Slick chair for international affairs at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. From 2003 to 2006, he was vice president, director of studies and Maurice R. Greenberg chair at CFR. He previously served as deputy director and senior fellow in the foreign policy studies program at the Brookings Institution. From 1987 until 1999, he was a professor of political science at the University of Iowa.
From 1996 to 1997, Dr. Lindsay was director for global issues and multilateral affairs on the staff of the National Security Council. He has also served as a consultant to the United States Commission on National Security/21st Century (Hart-Rudman Commission) and as a staff expert for the United States Institute of Peace's congressionally mandated Task Force on the United Nations.
Dr. Lindsay has written widely on various aspects of American foreign policy and international relations. His book with Ivo H. Daalder, America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy (Brookings Institution Press, 2003), was awarded the 2003 Lionel Gelber Prize, named a finalist for the Arthur S. Ross Book Award, and selected as a top book of 2003 by The Economist. His other books include Agenda for the Nation (with Henry J. Aaron and Pietro S. Nivola, Brookings Institution Press, 2003), which was named an "Outstanding Academic Book of 2004" by Choice Magazine; and Congress and the Politics of U.S. Foreign Policy (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994). He has also contributed articles to the op-ed pages of many major newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. He writes the blog, "The Water's Edge," which discusses the politics of American foreign policy and the domestic underpinnings of American global power.
Dr. Lindsay holds an AB in economics and political science from the University of Michigan and an MA, MPhil, and PhD from Yale University. He has been a fellow at the Center for International Affairs and the Center for Science and International Affairs, both at Harvard University. He is a recipient of the Pew Faculty Fellowship in International Affairs and an International Affairs Fellowship from the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Dr. Lindsay was born in Winchester, Massachusetts in 1959. He and his wife live with their four children in the Washington, DC, suburbs.
Kevin Madden is Executive Vice President of Public Affairs of JDA Frontline, a public affairs firm with offices in Washington, D.C. and Charleston, S.C.
Prior to joining JDA Frontline, Mr. Madden was a Managing Director with The Glover Park Group, a leading public affairs firm based in Washington D.C.
Most notably, during the 2008 election cycle, Mr. Madden served as National Press Secretary and Senior Communications Strategist for Governor Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
Prior to joining Governor Romney’s campaign, Mr. Madden served as Press Secretary to then-House Majority Leader and now-House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). In that capacity, Mr. Madden served as a top communications strategist for the House of Representatives leadership office charged with directing legislative action on a wide range of issues including financial services, energy, national security, legal reform, transportation and telecommunications policy among others.
Before his work as a top leadership aide on Capitol Hill, Mr. Madden served as the Department of Justice’s national spokesman on issues ranging from national security to litigation before the federal courts.
During the 2004 presidential campaign, Mr. Madden was a member of the communications team directing President George W. Bush’s re-election effort, serving as the president’s campaign spokesman for regional, national and international news organizations.
Mr. Madden originally hails from Yonkers, N.Y. and now resides in Washington, D.C.
Robert J. Shapiro
In addition to chairing Sonecon, Dr. Shapiro is also a Senior Fellow of the Georgetown University School of Business, advisor to the International Monetary Fund, director of the Globalization Center at NDN, chairman of the U.S. Climate Task Force, co-chair of America Task Force Argentina, and a director member of the Ax:son-Johnson Foundation in Sweden. From 1997 to 2001, Dr. Shapiro was U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs. In that position, he directed economic policy for the Commerce Department and oversaw the Nation's major statistical agencies, including the Census Bureau while it planned and carried out the 2000 decennial census. Prior to that appointment, he was co-founder and Vice President of the Progressive Policy Institute and the Progressive Foundation. He also served as principal economic advisor to Bill Clinton in his 1991-1992 presidential campaign and senior economic advisor to Al Gore and John Kerry in their presidential campaigns. In 2008, he advised the campaign and transition of Barack Obama. Dr. Shapiro also was as Legislative Director for Senator Daniel P. Moynihan and Associate Editor of U.S. News & World Report. He has been a Fellow of Harvard University, the Brookings Institution, and the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Dr. Shapiro holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from Harvard, a M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and an A.B. from the University of Chicago. He is widely published, and his most recent book is Futurecast: How Superpowers, Populations and Demographics Will Change the You Live and Work (St Martins' Press, 2008).
Jim Tankersley is the economics correspondent for National Journal. Tankersley joined National Journal from the Tribune Washington Bureau, where he covered energy, the environment and politics, with a heavy focus on economic issues during the 2008 presidential campaign, for newspapers including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. He previously worked at the Toledo Blade, the Rocky Mountain News and The Oregonian. Tankersley and a colleague at The Blade won the 2007 Livingston Award for Young Journalists for their “Business as Usual” series of stories revealing the true roots of Ohio’s economic decline. He was also part of the “Coingate” team at the Toledo Blade that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Tankersley is an Oregon native and 2000 graduate of Stanford University. He lives in Washington with his wife, Marci Prenger, and his son Max.
Joel Benenson and Kevin Madden, expert political strategists and advocates for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, respectively, frame the issues for their chosen candidates. Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, judges both arguments, and focuses the discussion on the number-one issue in the 2012 presidential election.
Kevin Madden, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs of JDA Frontline and Communications Director for the 2008 Romney campaign, argues that results and not popularity will define the 2012 Presidential Election.