On Oct. 9, in the Francis E. Geissler Gymnasium, former "CBS News" anchor and "60 Minutes" correspondent Dan Rather kicked off Eastern's 2012-13 Arts and Lecture Series with a lecture on the 2012 elections to 2,000 students, faculty, staff and guests.
Rather, who has more than 60 years of experience working in the media, said he is "not an expert on anything," but had been blessed to covered a lot of stories, ranging from covering every presidential campaign since 1952 to serving as the White House correspondent for "CBS News" during the administrations of Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.
Rather offered a suspenseful presentation of what election night will look like. "The race for president is breathtakingly close. If the election were held tonight, it's advantage President Obama, but only by the width of a bat's ear because Governor Romney benefited from his post-debate bounce. We have well over three weeks to go in the campaign. One of the things anybody who has ever run for office knows is that in politics, overnight is a long time, and a week is forever." He said the race could pivot at any moment over the next three weeks due to emerging global issues that could shape the contours of the campaign. Rather predicted independent voters in eight swing states will decide the election by a four-to six-point spread.
Rather, who covered the Civil Rights demonstrations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Medger Evers between 1962 and 1964, said the nation must face major challenges squarely after the election. Those challenges included America falling from first place in the world in education to number 13; facing the threat of nuclear war; feeding the one and a half billion people in the world who go to bed hungry ever night; and handling the issue of race. "How we handle race will be the bottom line in American history."
In his closing, Rather encouraged people of all ages, especially students, to engage in civic activity in their communities. "We have a multi-religious, multi-racial, multi-ethnic country, and we can stand united and hold ourselves together. Whether you're a student, whether you're a teacher or a laborer, the country needs you and your work right now, more than ever. The country needs you to be alert, active, engaged and involved in the affairs of our beloved country right now."
The next Arts and Lecture Series features U.S. Marine Colonel Matthew Bogdanos on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Betty R. Tipton Room of the Student Center. For more information on the 2012-13 Lecture Series, visit www.easternct.edu/artsandlecture.