CNN Crossfire co-host Stephanie Cutter and former campaign manager for the 2008 Obama campaign David Plouffe spoke about life after politics at the Kennedy Political Union’s first event of the year on Sept. 8.
Previously, Cutter worked as the deputy campaign manager for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, and Plouffe worked as the campaign manager for Obama in the 2008 election before becoming a senior advisor to the president, where he served until January 2013.
Both Cutter and Plouffe are moving on to new careers after working in politics for the majority of their early careers. Cutter worked for multiple presidential administrations including Clinton and Obama before moving to CNN, while Plouffe will move to San Francisco next month to begin work as the Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy for the transportation company Uber.
A common theme throughout the first KPU event of the year of getting involved. Both Cutter and Plouffe said that hands on experience is the best way to get started on political campaigns and in business.
“My advice to people trying to sign up for campaigns is to just go do it,” Cutter said to The Eagle.
But, getting involved with campaigns comes with a price. Cutter and Plouffe each talked about their personal challenges maintaining a work-life balance, and said that people who can accomplish such a balance are healthy and happy.
“I have done presidential campaigns since I graduated from college,” Cutter said. “It’s easy to get lost in that and forget that you’re still a person who has a life and a family and friends outside of that presidential world.”
Finding mentors who take the time to show the ropes when getting involved in new endeavors was a key part of learning how to be a professional, according to Cutter.
“I’ve been fortunate to have many women mentors in politics, which doesn’t happen a lot,” Cutter said.
Other moments during the evening touched on current events. Plouffe touched on Obama’s foreign policy and the approach that he took to the changing geopolitical environment today.
“I think there’s a dangerous notion that we’re the chessmaster of the world and it’s never, ever worked that way,” Plouffe said.
Several students asked about the 2016 presidential election, noting Plouffe and Cutter’s experience as members of Obama’s campaign team.
Both Cutter and Plouffe considered Republican Senator Rand Paul to be the best contender for the Republican Party. They considered Democrat Hillary Clinton to be the front-runner for the Democratic Party. Plouffe emphasised that elections still matter, and that they shape conversations on a national level.
“Campaigns are vehicles to get issues done and make progress or stop bad ideas, so campaigns matter,” Plouffe said.
Plouffe plans to start working for Uber next month, told The Eagle. He also said that his role in politics is never truly over since working with President Obama.
“When you’re in the President’s orbit, it’s like the old Eagles song ‘Hotel California,’ you can check out but you can never leave,” Plouffe said.