Former White House Press Secretary Perino Addresses Students


(Courtesy of Chris Greenberg/White House via Wikicommons)
(Courtesy of Chris Greenberg/White House via Wikicommons)

On Thursday, Oct. 21, Dana Perino, former White House Press Secretary under President George W. Bush and current Fox News contributor, addressed students in Keating Hall at Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH). The event, open to all students, was sponsored by the Fordham University College Republicans.

Perino discussed a variety of topics, from her career in the White House as Press Secretary and her thoughts on contemporary American politics to career advice for students. “We, as Americans, never wonder and wallow in who we are. We constantly are thinking about who do we want to be. And that is a frontiersmen attitude,” Perino said in her introduction.

Throughout the night, Perino talked about the future of politics. “You have the potential to be the next great generation” Perino said.  “You do not have to be from some place fancy to end up advising the president in the Oval Office.”

Perino emphasized the importance of civility. “One of the things I found was most important in Washington was to recognize that policy debates are not about good versus evil. They’re about two Americans who arrived at different conclusions about how to get something done.” Perino went on to share personal anecdotes about working with Bush and meeting Barack Obama when he was a junior senator from Illinois.

Perino also discussed her own career path from country music DJ to working at the White House. “The way I got from being a girl in a cattle ranch to being at the White House wasn’t a direct shot,” Perino said. “My message to you in this part of my talk tonight is that you don’t have to have everything figured out.”

In addition to her experience in politics, Perino offered her view on the millennial generation. “Your generation of millennials, you amaze me, you terrify me, you confuse me. I admire you, sometimes I would like to be you,” Perino said.

Perino closed her keynote by reminding students about the importance of American leadership and how our generation will have to take on the difficult political issues of our time. “I think you have a lot of potential as a generation; the technology that is coming forward is astounding but it’s also a very challenging time. You’re going to be asked to be the leader of the free world. The United States is the leader of the world and in my opinion we have to continue to be that because the human condition around the world matters.”

After her speech, Perino answered questions from students ranging from the upcoming presidential election to her experience as a woman in the professional world.

“I thought it was fantastic. One of the best speaker events I’ve ever witnessed at Fordham.” Benjamin Shull, president of the Fordham University College Republicans and FCRH ’16 said. Shull explained that there has been an effort to have more female speakers. “There was an emphasis to get female speakers because we had mostly just had male speakers come in the past few semesters,” Shull said.

Perino is not the first former White House Press Secretary to speak at at Fordham; Ari Fleischer, who also served as Press Secretary under President George W. Bush, was a guest speaker for the College Republicans in 2012.

Fordham University College Republicans’ speaker events have made headlines in recent years. In 2012, the College Republicans rescinded their invitation to Ann Coulter due to a backlash from members of the Fordham community who were unhappy with the choice of speaker. The controversy was reported by news sources outside of the university, including Fox News and the Huffington Post. The following year, the club invited controversial right-wing journalist James O’Keefe. While there was a mild backlash to his invitation, it was not rescinded.