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On-Campus ‘Where We Live’ Discusses Money, Power and Politics

Photo: Jason Cunningham

By Michael Walsh

Torp Theatre played home to WNPR’s Where We Live last Wednesday night as host John Dankosky moderated a discussion between former Connecticut Senate and Governor candidate Ned Lamont and NPR reporter Peter Overby.

The special live taping focused on money, power and politics and the increasing relationship between the three.

“We have more self-financed candidates this time around,” said Overby, a Washington correspondent for NPR. “Parties love it.”

Overby, who has an NPR reporting background including a current beat of power, money and influence in politics, went on to say that he feels that the financial backers of public speech such political campaign ads should be publicly identified.

“A self-financed candidate doesn’t have to talk to anyone,” said Overby. “They could be in a cocoon.”

Lamont, who recently spent an estimated $9 million of his own money in his recent campaign for the Democratic candidacy for the state’s race for governor before losing in the primary to Dan Malloy, defended self-financed candidates.

“You’ve got to go out and look people in the eye and earn there vote,” said Lamont. “There is no cocoon.”

Lamont, who’s also a distinguished professor of political science and philosophy at CCSU, added that when he first entered politics, there was no party asking him to run.

When Dankosky asked Lamont if the money he spent in his recent campaign was worth it, Lamont replied, “I think it was the best investment I could have ever made,” leading to a smattering of applause across the theatre full of students, faculty and the public.

There was much discussion between the three on stage surrounding campaign ads.

Overby commented saying that TV is a diminishing resource and that it may not be the best bang for the candidate’s buck come 2012.

Lamont, used to being involved with the advertising portion of campaigns, admitted that “sadly attack ads work.”

The audience-integrated question and answer portion of the taping brought up the topic of what money actually buys in politics.

“Money buys you the opportunity to introduce yourself,” said Lamont. “It gives [candidates] a chance to catch up.”

“For the candidate [money] buys a platform to present yourself,” said Overby. “It can’t take you all the way there.”

Overby added that for the donors it buys connections, relationships and the ability to get a foot in the door.

Ending the program, Lamont broadcasted a message he can surely attest to in his political experiences.

“Message is more important than money,” said Lamont. “It has to resonate with people.”