Prior to their Common Ground discussion on April 11, Reince Priebus and Jim Messina held a Q&A with Hamilton students. Two government classes were selected to participate in the event.

Reince Priebus previously served as chief of staff to President Trump and chair of the Republican National Committee. Before his time on the federal level, Priebus served as head of the Wisconsin Republican Party.

Jim Messina was the former deputy chief of staff and campaign manager to President Obama. He got his start in politics working for former U.S. Senator Max Baucus of Montana. He currently serves as the CEO of The Messina Group, an international political consulting company that has worked with former Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, former UK Prime Minister David Cameron, former Italian Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Renzi, and UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

Students not only had an hour to ask the panelists about the current political climate but the actual process of governing.

“Getting to compare what happens in politics behind the scenes and what you see normally is the show of campaigning and theatre of signing bills is very interesting,” said Alex Nemeth ‘22. “We got to see a little bit more of how the sausage gets made through the chief of staff perspective.”

Other students were surprised that the conversation between both men was honest and collegial.

“I was impressed by how authentic they came off, especially Reince Priebus,” said Melanie Geller ‘22.  “I came in expecting him to be very defensive, but he was very honest about his own difficulties working for Trump.”

“I particularly enjoyed hearing Mr. Messina’s and Mr. Priebus’ different views on polarization in the U.S. and the different advice they would give to the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates,” said Peri Kessler ‘22. “I thought the Common Ground event displayed the type of civil discourse that more Hamilton students should engage in.”

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