City Club of Chicago: ‘The Iowa Caucus Bounce: Will It Matter?’ with David Axelrod, Matt Strawn and David Yepsen

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David Yepsen, David Axelrod and Matt Strawn discuss "The Iowa Caucus Bounce: Will It Matter?" at a City Club of Chicago luncheon, February 8, 2016 (City Club of Chicago)

February 8, 2016

David Axelrod is a 40-year veteran of American politics and journalism. Prior to becoming a political consultant, Axelrod spent eight years as a reporter and columnist for the Chicago Tribune, including a stint as the City Hall bureau chief. As a political consultant, Axelrod has managed media and communications strategy for more than 150 local, state and national campaigns. Axelrod most recently served as Senior Strategist to President Obama’s successful re-election campaign. He served in that same role in then-Senator Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, before going on to serve in the White House as Senior Advisor to the President. After the 2012 campaign, Axelrod founded the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago to help inspire and train the next generation of leaders.

Described by ABC News as “savvy and media friendly” and identified by the Des Moines Register as one of the ten most influential Iowa Republicans for the 2016 Iowa Caucuses, Matt Strawn draws upon decades of experience as a statewide public official, entrepreneur, public affairs professional, and public servant. Matt is a founding principal of Next Generation Public Affairs, a Midwest-based public affairs firm.

During a successful career on Capitol Hill, Matt served as Chief of Staff and Counsel to Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan), a member of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. During his public service career on Capitol Hill, Matt was twice-named by The Hill newspaper as one of the “top 35 under 35” in Washington, DC. Matt returned home to Iowa in 2007 with his wife to raise their young family.

As a community leader, Matt was elected to two terms as chairman of Iowa’s Republican Party, where his leadership and success received state and national attention. Politico named Matt an “emerging political star” to watch, while the Des Moines Register declared “Credit Strawn with GOP’s rebound” in Iowa. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad noted that “the Republican Party of Iowa has been stronger, more visible, and imminently more successful since Matt Strawn became our leader.”

Matt is a graduate of the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law (J.D. 2003), where he graduated first in his law class; the University of Iowa (B.A. 1996); and Benton Community High School (Van Horne, Iowa), where he is a member of the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Matt serves on the Board of Directors for a number of privately-held technology companies, the Des Moines Area Sports Commission, and the non-profit Iowans Supporting Israel. Matt resides with his wife, Erin, and their three children in Ankeny, Iowa.

David A. Yepsen is director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

Before assuming that position in 2009, he had a 34 year career with the Des Moines Register, serving as the paper’s chief political writer, political editor and political columnist. He covered nine presidential caucus campaigns for the paper.

He is an Iowa native and is a 1972 graduate of the University of Iowa. He has also done graduate work in journalism and mass communication at Iowa State University and in 1985 earned a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) degree from Drake University.

In 1989 he was a fellow at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. In 2008, he was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard where he led a study group on the nation’s presidential selection processes.

In his book about his 1988 presidential race, the late Illinois Senator Paul Simon praised Yepsen’s objectivity.

“Every four years the chief political reporter for the Des Moines Register becomes the most important reporter in the nation,” he said. “It is a position that could cause vanity and abuse. To his credit, David Yepsen handled this position with sensitivity and balance. And he worked hard.”