Crossfire host talks politics with students

CNN political commentator Bill Press talked tax cuts and pick-up lines with about 100 students Wednesday night in the Hippodrome to promote and sign copies of his new book, “Spin This.”

The book is based on the once popular CNN program “The Spin Room” and covers people’s creative perspective or “spin” on issues like politics, sex and baseball.

Representatives from the College Democrats, College Republicans, Student Association and the School of Media and Public Affairs flanked Press as students fired questions on topics ranging from President George W. Bush’s tax cuts to the art of dating. SA President Roger Kapoor asked Press for useful lines to pick up women but was referred to a chapter in Press’ book on dating.

The discussion centered on the possibility of delaying Bush’s pending tax cuts.

“When we’re back to a time of no surplus with deficit spending, we must do everything to revive the economy and get people back to work, even if that means considering a delay in tax-cuts,” Press said, responding to student concerns about the $21 billion deficit announced Wednesday by the Congressional Budget Office.

In bipartisan fashion, Press, a self-declared liberal Democrat, answered student questions about the responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks. With Republicans blaming former President Bill Clinton for lax security and Democrats accusing Bush of negotiating with the Taliban last year for an oil pipeline, Press said, “All of us should avoid pointing fingers of blame at everyone over bin Laden, we simply need to be united.”

Press, who last visited campus in September, said the United States has mistreated the Taliban prisoners held in Cuba. He accused Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of violating the Geneva Convention, which guarantees humane treatment for all prisoners of war.

“I would think being kept outdoors in an eight-by-eight wire cage with no toilet or running water is not very humane,” Press said.

“The amount of enthusiasm on this campus really showed through tonight,” said Kapoor, a member of the four-person panel who sat next to Press as he received questions.

Press, known for his witty personality on the CNN talk show “Crossfire,” signed books for students, leaving messages like “may the spin be with you” and “it’s worth exactly what you paid for it.” The first 20 students at the event received free copies of the book.

Press announced the possibility that the “Crossfire” studio will be permanently relocated to the GW campus. Although the plan is only a suggestion at this stage, Press said, “It is a very diverse student body, a well-informed student body, and I think that is the reason that we come here.”

“Crossfire” broadcast live from GW for two weeks in September. The talk show, which features political figures facing off with Press and another host from the right, also filmed at GW in 1994, 1996, 1997 and 2000, when it first broadcast from the new Media and Public Affairs building.

Press said the shows “Crossfire” did at GW after Sept. 11 were among the “most memorable” the series has ever done.

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