By Meredith Jarchow
On Sept. 21, former Florida Governor and 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush was interviewed by St. John’s graduate of ’69, MPR News
Editor-At-Large Gary Eichten for the 11th Annual Eugene J. McCarthy Lecture on Conscience and Courage in Public Life.
While on campus, Bush toured the St. John’s campus, participated in a question and answer session with a group of approximately 30 students, held a press conference for media sources and attended receptions before and after the lecture.
SJU President Michael Hemesath, Director of the McCarthy Center Matt Lindstrom and McCarthy Center Student Coordinator Kathryn Hockman shared welcomes and introductions before the interview.
Topics covered during the interview included climate change and the recent hurricanes the nation has endured, the 2016 Presidential Election, relations with China and North Korea, education and Bush’s thoughts on President Donald Trump and Congress. While the content of the lecture was serious, the
former Governor did elicit a few laughs from the audience.
“Moving on to President Trump,” Eichten said.
“Why,” Bush said. “What’s the point?”
According to Lindstrom, this Eugene J. McCarthy Lecture had the strongest interest among students compared to previous lectures. He attributed the increase in interest to the high-profile nature of the guest.
“There was more people there so there was a lot more energy, and there was a lot of excitement,” McCarthy Center Student Coordinator Meghan Mullon said. “It brought more people into the Center which was exciting.”
Compared to the past two Eugene J. McCarthy Lectures, Bush is aligned more politically to the right. There were concerns of protests on campus by students with opposing views, but Lindstrom was happy with the student reception to the event.
“I was not surprised, but extremely pleased that the students welcomed Governor Bush with open arms and open minds,” Lindstrom said. “The St. Ben’s and St. John’s students deserve all the credit for being mature and intellectually curious, and for just simply displaying Benedictine hospitality as well as intellectually open minds for learning and listening to someone they may not necessarily agree with or vote for.”
Bush was chosen as the Eugene J. McCarthy Lecture guest after an SJU Trustee member, who has a connection with the governor, suggested him to the McCarthy Center. Moving forward, the McCarthy Center will begin the selection process for the next lecture guest at the end of this semester and hope to have one in place sometime during the spring semester.
“In the end, the lecture itself is about celebrating Senator McCarthy’s legacy,” Mullon said. “Once people see that that’s the purpose of the lecture, it becomes much more poignant who we bring in and what kind of conversations we have.”
In the meantime, the McCarthy Center will continue to host their regular Politics and a Pint events as well as TED Talks Tuesday.
“I think the McCarthy Center can continue to push all of us out of our little political bubbles,” Lindstrom said.