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Center to sponsor democracy talks

Several of the nation's leading political figures will meet Monday in the Rotunda for American Democracy Conference '99, addressing "the health of democracy" in the United States today.

Former Presidential Candidate Lamar Alexander (R) and former Colorado Gov. Roy Romer (D) are the keynote speakers for the event, which was organized by the Center for Governmental Studies.

Center Intern Coordinator Melissa Northern, who helped coordinate the conference, said the speakers offer valuable political perspectives.

"These two particular speakers are very excited about coming to the University and we are excited about having them," Northern said.

Other guest panelists include Charlie Cook of The National Journal, Eleanor Clift of Newsweek, Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post and Bob Franken of CNN.

Center Program Director Alex Theodoridis said the Conference directly reflects the Center's mission.

The Center strives to "foster thoughtful discussion on the political process and make it accessible to the public in a number of different ways," Theodoridis said.

This will be the second annual conference sponsored by the Center and the online political journal "The Hotline."

Theodoridis said "The Hotline" is co-sponsoring the event because of its status as a prominent political information source.

"It is the cutting edge of information exchange in the political world," he said. "The Hotline"'s Web site, updated daily, is "one-stop shopping for political news."

Because of the prominence of the guests organizing the Conference was difficult, Northern said.

She said the main frustration was that "dealing with people of this caliber, it's hard to get everybody's schedule to line up."

The Conference also had to compete with many other events surrounding the 2000 election in order to secure its list of high-profile political personalities, she added.

Larry J. Sabato, Center director and government and foreign affairs professor, will moderate many of the discussions.

Sabato said he is excited about the Conference.

"If you know anything about politics, this is a terrific conference for you," he said.

He added that "the [political] system is broken ... in some respects," especially in the case of fund raising, and he hopes "to find out from Lamar Alexander what is wrong with the system."

Alexander will not be giving a speech but rather a "Socratic dialogue," Sabato said.

This format will allow Alexander to address specific questions from the audience and from Conference administrators.

Although the Conference will not be open to the public, "hundreds of students and faculty members have been invited," Theodoridis said.

The Conference also will be broadcast on C-Span and may be shown on local Public Access Television.

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