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Hardball at Fordham: War, Politics and Race


MSNBC Hardball College Tour, broadcast live from the Leonard Theatre at Fordham Preparatory School on Monday, Dec. 4, led with the war in Iraq. Calling the Iraqi Study Group’s brief to develop viable options for the war in Iraq a “close to impossible job,” special guest Tom Brokaw said “the choices are not easy in Iraq, and the president has made it clear that he has his own continuing strong ideas about what he thinks ought to be done there. I don’t think the country should expect…a magic bullet.”

Campbell Brown, co-anchor of NBC’s Weekend Today, and NBC Nightly News correspondent, hosted the show in front of a wildly enthusiastic student audience. Her interview with Brokaw, former NBC Nightly News anchor, ranged from the war and the 2008 presidential election to the recent poisoning of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, and the possibility that Vladimir V. Putin, president of the Russian Federation, was behind the killing. Brown took over Monday’s broadcast from Hardball host Chris Matthews, who is recovering from a sudden illness.

Students were able to question Brokaw on various topics during the show, and Brown quizzed seniors Emil Reyes and Chris Catropa about the thinking of college-age voters.

Catropa, a Fordham College at Rose Hill student and former vice president of the Fordham University College Republicans, said he saw “northeast Republicans” backing away from the ideology of neoconservatism, and embracing a more fiscal conservatism. Catropa, a political science major, will continue on in Fordham’s master’s program in elections and campaign management.

Ethics in government was the top concern among Democrats, according to Reyes, a College of Business Administration student and president of the Fordham College Democrats. According to him, college-age voters must work to change the ethical landscape if the United States is to maintain its influence in the world. Reyes plans to work in government upon graduation.

While handicapping the 2008 elections, in particular the prospects for Sen. Barak Obama, Brokaw spoke about race relations in America, an issue he’s covered for more than 30 years. “Let’s be frank about it, this is a big reach, for an African American to be elected president of the United States,” he said. “There are a lot of people, in their conscious or subconscious minds, who are going to have a hard time saying ‘I’m prepared to vote for a black person.’”

Brokaw was the anchor of NBC Nightly News from 1982 to 2004. In his storied career he has covered developments in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Hurricane Katrina, Vladimir Putin (Brokaw was the first American to interview him in 2000), and the fall of the Berlin Wall. He has won the Alfred I. DuPont Award and the George Foster Peabody Award.


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