In defiance, Cruz perpetuates image of fractured GOP

WJLA

Originally Posted: July 21, 2016

The unity that leaders in the Republican party were struggling to present to voters in this election cycle took a major blow Wednesday at the hands of the man who had once pledged to be the candidate they could coalesce around.

Ted Cruz stuck to his guns on Thursday, remaining adamant in his refusal to endorse Donald Trump, regardless of how damaging it may be to himself, or the party he is a part of.

In reacting to Cruz’s speech, Matthew Wilson, an associate professor of Political Science at Southern Methodist University, noted it brings back certain perceptions people have had about the Republican Party.

“It certainly reinforces the sense that the party is divided, that there are still significant doubts about [Trump’s] commitment to conservative principals and that’s not the message of unity that the party would ideally hope to project coming out of Cleveland,” Wilson said. READ MORE

Trump’s acceptance speech sets everything right

SMU NEWS

Originally Posted: July 22, 2016

NO PIVOTS FROM TRUMP IN ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

Matthew Wilson

MATTHEW WILSON: 
jmwilson@smu.edu

Trump kept surprises to a minimum during his acceptance speech, says Wilson, focusing on red meat instead.

“Trump didn’t pivot, he doubled down,” Wilson says. “His most powerful lines were about being a champion for forgotten working people. He is what he is, and the message and tone aren’t changing. We’ll see if it works.”

Wilson added that it was, “Interesting that Trump explicitly reached out to both gays and evangelicals,” but noted most of the speech focused on fear, not hope.

“Trump is betting that Americans are uneasy and looking for more acknowledgement of their anxieties than soaring, optimistic rhetoric,” Wilson says. “One of the songs playing in the hall after Trump won the nomination was ironic … ‘You can’t always get what you want.’” READ MORE

Matthew Wilson, Political Science, on Trump’s upcoming speech

KTSA

Originally Posted: July 20, 2016

Trump To Take The Spotlight

The Republican Nominee for President takes the stage at the Republican National Convention Thursday Night. We asked Matthew Wilson at SMU what we can expect to hear from Donald trump.

He says to not expect the conventional political speech form Trump because there is nothing conventional about him.

Wilson says Trump needs to show a more approachable, humanistic side of himself to help get him over with Republicans who are not ready to support him. LISTEN

Tower Center Associate Edward Rincón’s research featured in the Dallas Morning News

 

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: July 20, 2016

Tower Center Associate Edward T. Rincón was featured in the Dallas Morning News discussing his research company’s recent study about the affects of the growing Latino population in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  READ MORE

Meet the Scientist: Eveline Kuchmak, an SMU alumna and current Manager of Temporary Exhibitions at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science

The Rock Report

Originally Posted: July 18, 2016

Meet: Eveline Kuchmak

Another Southern Methodist University alumna (Pony Up!), Eveline graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Economic Sociology. Growing up she “lived for trips to art and science museums, space camp, Pony Club veterinary workshops, and the latest issue of National Geographic.” She was homeschooled for much of her childhood and her parents always made sure she had a healthy dose of curiosity. After graduation, she attended archaeological field school in New Mexico which only reinforced her desire to discover new things and share these experiences. This path has led her to a career inspiring others through science museums.

She began working at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in education and public programs; however, at the beginning of this year she transitioned into her new role as Manager of Temporary Exhibits. READ MORE

 

Texas GOP leaders haul in campaign cash

Houston Chronicle

Originally Posted: July 18, 2016

AUSTIN – Texas’ most prominent Republican leaders are building big – in some cases enormous – political war chests more than 18 months ahead of their next election.

From Gov. Greg Abbott to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to Attorney General Ken Paxton, statewide officials are flush with millions of dollars in the bank well ahead of the 2018 re-election season, new records show.

The lone exception: Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, whose first term in a statewide office has been marred by controversy. Miller’s campaign reported just $63,000 in the bank, by the far the lowest of any statewide official.

New campaign finance reports released over the weekend show just how much money Republican state leaders have banked since taking office last year.

Abbott has amassed $28.6 million, easily surpassing the $20 million in campaign cash he had when he launched his last gubernatorial bid. Patrick, who as lieutenant governor is considered the state’s second-most powerful politician, has nearly $9.3 million in the bank.

Far in advance

Statewide officials will not be on the ballot again until the March 2018 Republican primary. Most are expected to cruise through that process uncontested, leaving the real election test more than two years away.

But some could draw opponents in the primary that could require substantial spending to thwart, said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University. READ MORE

Congratulations to Timothy S. Myers, Neil J. Tabor, Louis L. Jacobs and Robert Bussert, co-authors of a new paper in the Journal of Sedimentary Research

Journal of Sedimentary Research

Originally Posted: July 19, 2016

Congratulations to Timothy S. Myers, Neil J. Tabor, Louis L. Jacobs and Robert Bussert, co authors of a new paper in the Journal of Sedimentary Research titled “EFFECTS OF DIFFERENT ORGANIC-MATTER SOURCES ON ESTIMATES OF ATMOSPHERIC AND SOIL pCO2 USING PEDOGENIC CARBONATE.” READ MORE

 

History professor John Chavez presented paper in public forum July 11

Originally Posted: July 19, 2016
UnknownStephanie Lewthwaite, winner of a Southwest Center fellowship for 2010, invited SMU History Professor John Chavez to present a paper, ‘Aliens or Natives: Mexicans in the Southwestern United States’ in a public forum sponsored by the University of Nottingham in Great Britain on July 11, 2016.

Cal Jillson, Political Science, comments on the all-American rise of Katrina Pierson, Donald Trump’s unlikely spokeswoman

Daily Dot

Originally Posted: July 12, 2016

Picture the average Donald Trump supporter in your head. Whomever you pictured probably looks nothing like Katrina Pierson.

A single mother, Pierson voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and served on Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s Senate campaign in 2012. But it’s Pierson who supplies the average Trump supporter with their dinner table talking points.

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, tapped the 39-year-old Pierson to be his national spokeswoman in November. According to Politico, Pierson had impressed Trump, whom she met on the campaign trail while working for Cruz.

Pierson’s ascent into the spotlight of U.S. politics is as much the quintessential all-American story of a self-made life as it is unlikely.

As spokeswoman, Pierson serves as the Trump campaign’s most visible form of damage control. Over the course of nearly nine months, Pierson has served as Trump’s main line of defense on the broadcast news circuit, maintains an active social media presence, and scores regular appearances before CNN’s Don Lemon and Fox News’ Megyn Kelly.

To most PR people, defending Trump might seem like a tall order. But Pierson seemed to be well aware of that when she signed on to the job. The native of Garland, Texas, exhibits an admiration for Trump and his message that sometimes seems limitless. Even when her boss offends women, Muslims, or people of color, Pierson stands by his side.

“Perhaps Mr. Trump could have gone out and blamed Brexit on a video that never existed and maybe the media would have been okay with that.”
“The truth is, no one truly interesting is universally liked. So, most of the spin is to correct the biased reporting when he is pulled out of context,” Pierson said in a December interview with the Dallas Morning News. “The things he says are only controversial because we have evolved into a cupcake society. Everyone is offended by everything thanks to years of political correctness.”

Pierson’s disregard for political correctness is clear. You may be familiar with Pierson as the Trump official who retorted “So what, they’re Muslim!” in the middle of a debate with S.E. Cupp on Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration. Or from when Pierson tweeted, “Are there any purebreeds left?” during the 2012 election, referring to the fathers of then President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney being born overseas. Pierson also referred to President Obama on Twitter as the “head Negro in charge.” Like Obama, Pierson is half black.

When #TrumpGirlsBreaktheInternet began trending on Twitter, Pierson gamely jumped on the bandwagon.

Pierson, much like her boss, is candid and outspoken on both social media and cable news. When Pierson defends one of Trumps’ controversial positions on immigration, women, or national security, it will often add more fuel to the fire. If one of Trump’s statements lack any basis in fact, Pierson will often insist that it does. After Politifact found Trump’s claims on the vetting process to admit Syrian refugees into the United States false, Pierson retorted, “We’re not going to base national security off PolitiFact or even the United Nations.”

If one of Trump’s statements just seems ill-timed or insensitive, Pierson will often outright deflect. Trump was criticized for pointing out that one of the merits of Brexit was that it would bring more people to his golf course in Scotland; when asked to explain the faux pas, Pierson changed the subject to the Benghazi scandal, incorrectly stating that a YouTube video that sparked protests in the Middle East never existed.

“Perhaps Mr. Trump could have gone out and blamed Brexit on a video that never existed and maybe the media would have been okay with that,” Pierson said.

Such an approach has picked up plenty of criticism, even from Republicans.

“[Pierson] is a vital and integral part of Donald Trump’s plan to lose the election and hand the White House over to Hillary Clinton,” said Republican consultant Mike Murphy in an email to the Daily Dot. “She is a message train wreck.”

Others, meanwhile, have a more positive assessment of Pierson’s ability to control the message of a candidate as unpredictable as Trump—even if Pierson still seems like an odd choice for a major campaign spokeswoman.

Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said in an interview with the Daily Dot that Trump’s hiring of Pierson was “deeply surprising” to him given her lack of experience. Jillson admitted his first thoughts upon hearing that Trump had picked Pearson was, “What the hell was he thinking? How did he even find out about her?”

Despite her relative newness to the world of national politics and presidential elections, Pierson has risen to the challenge, Jillson said.

“On the whole, she has not had the difficulty in being a spokeswoman that I would have expected her to have,” Jillson said. “There was no reason to believe when she was selected out of Dallas that she knew anything about national security, military affairs, even national domestic politics.” READ MORE