Gannon hosts former White House chiefs of staff


Madeline Bruce, Editor-in-Chief

Two former White House chiefs of staffs were in the spotlight Wednesday at the third Global Summit XII event, held at Gannon University’s Yehl Ballroom.

The event, titled “A Conversation with Former White House Chiefs of Staff,” featured former White House chiefs of staff Andrew Card and Mack McLarty.

The panel discussion was moderated by Steve Scully, Erie native, longtime Global Summit chairman and senior vice president of communications for the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

Card and McLarty offered stories and lessons from their experiences as chiefs of staff for former presidents. Card, a Republican, talked about his time as President George W. Bush’s chief of staff, and McLarty, President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, talked about his time with the former president.

For Josh Staley, a senior political science major, the event was a chance to hear from people with extensive political experience.

“It was interesting,” he said. “It is always important to hear from people who have such great political experience and who know a lot of information.”

Despite their separate political leanings, both emphasized the importance of bipartisanship in politics, which they said is not seen often in politics today.

Card attributed this to the disconnect between members of Congress today. Instead of representatives being pushed to stay in Washington, D.C. and visit home from time to time, representatives instead are pushed to stay at home and visit Washington from time to time.

This prevents members of Congress from getting to know one another and forming relationships across party lines, which Card said is important to bipartisanship.

This emphasis on the importance of bipartisanship was key, Ellen Madden, a senior biology major and political science minor, said.

“They both had a lot to say about the current state of politics,” she said. “It was refreshing to hear them talk about the importance of bipartisanship.”

According to Jeff Bloodworth, Ph.D., co-director of the School of Public Service and Global Affairs at Gannon, this emphasis on bipartisanship is something unique Card and McLarty brought to the Global Summit our time from personal experience. But they are friends. This is an important reminder. The other party is not your enemy.”

Card and McLarty also talked about the issue of the transition period between presidents. For McLarty, the transition into the Clinton administration was short and started late, which he cited as a mistake.

Both men stressed how important it is for time to be taken for the transition period between presidents, especially in a post-9/11 and post-Jan. 6 world.

“This stood out to me,” Madden said. “The transition is not something that comes to mind when I think about the president, but it is an important part of the job.”

In relation to Jan. 6, Card spoke of the ramifications that the insurrection has on the integrity of the nation’s democracy from a Republican standpoint.

“It shows how our democracy is not working, even down to the White House,” he said.

Hearing these opinions from different political viewpoints, Staley said, is important for students to gain perspective.

“Being able to hear their stories and opinions on issues allows students to learn outside of the classroom as well,” he said.

Having speakers the caliber of Card and McLarty makes a lasting imprint on the university and the community, allowing the Gannon education to continue its mission of being transformative, Bloodworth said.

“These opportunities leave a lasting imprint,” he said. “Universities exist to educate in and outside the classroom – the Global Summit is education beyond the classroom. We will remember these events for years and years to come.”