Speaker: centrist politics key to Democratic victory

Amy Hamblin

Mike McCurry, former press secretary for President Clinton, called for an “American renewal” Tuesday night, urging the Democratic party to move back to the political center.

In a speech sponsored by the College Democrats, McCurry addressed about 90 people in Coon Forum and highlighted the magnitude of the current presidential race.

“This country is at a profoundly important point in history,” McCurry said. “We can’t afford to squander this opportunity.”

Whoever the Democrats nominate for president will take on great importance in this era of deep partisanship, McCurry said.

The current administration is brushing aside crucial issues such as health care and social security in its quest to “eradicate evil,” he added.

“We have to use this election to call us back to fundamental purposes,” McCurry said. “Too often we only see partisanship and gridlock.”

McCurry said the country’s current state merits strong presidential leadership that could be provided by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry or North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.

Despite hopes for a Democratic victory in the general election, he said President Bush still has the advantage of being the incumbent and having a far larger fund-raising network.

“There has been the unprecedented amount of money that George Bush has been able to raise,” McCurry said. “With that money, he will be able to do significant damage and tear (the Democratic candidate) down.”

In order for a Democrat to beat Bush, McCurry said, the candidate would need to appeal to the entire public.

“The center of the road is where voters are,” McCurry said, emphasizing that Democrats need to follow Clinton’s example of making the public comfortable with a proactive government.

According to McCurry, Clinton gained the public’s trust and demonstrated his middle-of-the-road position when he declared the end of the “era of big government.”

McCurry recalled his former boss as a man with many facets to his leadership.

“Clinton could be inspiring and exasperating at the same time,” McCurry said. “I left at a good time when people were still applauding.”

Serving as press secretary from 1995-98, McCurry stepped down after the daily press conferences burned him out.

Although he weathered the eruption of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he left before the House of Representatives brought impeachment charges against Clinton.

Frequently called “the spin doctor” by the press, McCurry was not able to disclose as much or be as straightforward as he would have liked, he said.

“At the end of the day I probably didn’t serve the public very well,” McCurry said.

McCurry said he often felt like a “pi