Dianna Herrera-Goudeau ‘20
On Wednesday April 6, political speechwriter Lindsay Hayes came to Smith College to be interviewed by students and to open a conversation across the aisle. The event is part of the Smith College Bipartisan Coalition’s effort to bring important political figures to Smith and begin a conversation on bipartisan politics. According to their Press Coordinator, Molly Eldeivk ’17, this continued effort to bring in different political speakers has the larger goal of solving issues together, regardless of political affiliation.
Hayes is a political speech writer who has worked with Republican politicians to present, as she described, the “best versions of themselves.” Hayes started working in political speech writing as a research intern for George W. Bush just after 9/11. From there, Hayes’ career took off and continued until she took a break after helping with the 2016 Republican National Convention. Hayes received her Bachelor of Arts at Boston College in Communication and Political Science in 1998 and her PH.D and M.A. at the University of Maryland in 2013. Hayes has worked with a number of political campaigns and was the Senior Writer for the 2008 Republican National Convention.
The interview event was intimate, taking place in Seelye 106 with the majority of the crowd located in the first four rows. This created the atmosphere of a small lecture class. Just before the event started, everyone was laughing and talking about room draw and various other Smith events. The interview first opened with scripted questions and then Hayes took audience questions.
The event started off with Hayes speaking about her experiences with speech writing for Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, respectively. The interview questions ranged from Hayes’ professional background to professional techniques and the current political climate. Hayes shared the technique of collaborating with politicians to bring out their message. The first audience question was from Hayes’ nephew, who, despite being 11 years old, asked about Donald Trump. Hayes’ overall message, from answering this question and her general interview, advocated for collaboration and compromise, saying that it is a must that conversations begin across the aisle to get any policy work done. She even admitted that when working with a new client, she aims for 90 percent agreement with their stances, where the last 10 percent cannot be made up of “deal breakers.” There was laughter and excitement from the crowd, who enjoyed Hayes’ stories.
Once the interview ended, the audience crowded Hayes with questions and words of admiration. Nina Merriam ’17 was interested in the event because she is a self-described “political junky” and wanted to see what went on behind the curtain. Merriam enjoyed the interview and described Hayes as “excellent” and that she “learned a lot about behind the scenes.”
Overall, the event opened a conversation among the audience that could be taken out into the larger Smith world. The described goal of the Bipartisan Coalition is to open those conversations and to bring a larger understanding to the Smith community of accepting political differences. With this event completed, Eldevik has said that, “There is a lot more to come.”