After an unusually long wait, the Drew Forum speakers for the spring semester of 2019 have been announced. On January 16, a press release announced that former CIA Director John O. Brennan, Republican commentator and strategist Ana Navarro and former Ohio Governor and GOP presidential candidate John Kasich would speak at Drew over the coming months.
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While of diverse political parties and backgrounds, the trio shares several qualities. Each is a political moderate and has emerged as a sharp critic of President Donald Trump. Brennan, Navarro, and most recently Kasich have also all accepted positions as cable news commentators (Navarro and Kasich on CNN, and Brennan on MSNBC).
The series will kick off at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, where Brennan will speak on February 10. Brennan, a political independent, served as Director of the CIA under President Barack Obama from 2013 to 2017. Brennan made few headlines as director, but has since become a prominent opponent of President Trump, warning that he would soon take his “rightful place in the disgraced dustbin of history.”
Ana Navarro grew up in Nicaragua during the civil war between the socialist Sandinistas and the right-wing Contras, of which her father was a member. She fled to Miami with her mother and siblings, while her father stayed behind to fight. She joined the Republican Party when she saw President Ronald Reagan’s address supporting the Contra movement. Navarro has worked for Sen. Mitt Romney, Amb. Jon Huntsman, and the late Sen. John McCain. She will speak at the Dorothy Young Center for the Arts on February 27.
Gov. John Kasich’s lecture is sponsored by Thomas Kean, the former governor of New Jersey and president of Drew. Like Kean, Kasich was a moderate Republican governor and has vocally opposed President Trump. Kasich was the last Republican presidential candidate to drop out of the race before Trump won the nomination, and speculation has continued that the outgoing Ohio governor may run in the Republican primary against Trump in 2020.
Student reception of the speakers has been mixed. Some students have praised the choices for their ideological balance to last year’s predominantly Democratic speakers. Others, however, have noted that even the Democratic speakers were former Republicans or conservative Democrats. Kate Fulton-John (C’21) said that “there should be a more ideologically diverse population of speakers, ones from different disciplines and different backgrounds.”
Tickets for the Drew Forum are available for purchase at drew.edu/events.