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James Carville, Karen Hughes headline 2012 Domenici Public Policy Conference

  • By Janet Perez
  • Jul 10, 2012
Headshot of James Carville
The man who helped engineer former President Bill Clinton's winning campaign, James Carville, and a prominent adviser to former President George W. Bush, Ambassador Karen Hughes, will tackle the issues at the forefront of this fall's national elections during the 2012 Domenici Public Policy Conference.

Carville and Hughes also will discuss the candidates for the White House and the implications of various races for the U.S. Congress. ABC News contributor Sam Donaldson will moderate the dialogue.

The 2012 Domenici Public Policy Conference takes place Sept. 19 and 20 at the Las Cruces Convention Center, 680 E. University Ave. The session featuring Carville and Hughes is scheduled for Sept. 20 at 11 a.m.

"Our country is at a crossroads and the insight Karen Hughes and James Carville will bring to the 2012 national elections is invaluable," said Garrey Carruthers, dean of New Mexico State University's College of Business and director of the Domenici Institute. "Attendees of the Domenici Public Policy Conference can expect a lively and informed dialogue between these two seasoned political advisers."

Now in its fifth year hosting the conference, the Domenici Institute is named after New Mexico's longest-serving U.S. senator, Pete V. Domenici. Every year, the conference brings together some of the country's top experts to discuss a variety of important issues facing the nation. The Domenici Institute is housed on the campus of NMSU.

Carville is one of America's best-known political consultants. He guided Clinton to the presidency in 1992. In 1993, Carville was honored as campaign manager of the year by the American Association of Political Consultants for his leadership of Clinton's "war room" at campaign headquarters in Little Rock, Ark. Carville now focuses on international consulting, and has political clients across the globe. He also is an author, actor, producer, talk-show host, speaker and restaurateur.

Hughes served as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy, where she led the U.S. State Department's effort to communicate America's values abroad. She also served as counselor to Bush from 2001 to 2002. In this role, she acted as strategic adviser to the president on policy and communications, and managed the White House offices of communications, media affairs, speechwriting and press secretary. She now serves as global vice chair for the public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller.

Carville and Hughes won't be the only ones talking politics at the Domenici Conference. The U.S. Senate candidates angling to succeed retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman, former U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) and U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), are scheduled to make presentations during the closing session of the conference on Sept. 20.

Each candidate will take the stage separately and have 20 minutes to present their goals and plans for the future of New Mexico. They will then take 10 minutes of questions from Domenici student panelists. Heinrich's participation remains tentative pending the congressional voting schedule.

Beyond politics, the Domenici Conference also will address issues related to entrepreneurship and national security.


A key part of the Domenici Institute's mission is inspired by Sen. Domenici's hopes for a more prosperous and capitalistic-minded New Mexico. As a result, the institute seeks opportunities to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs and has dedicated the afternoon of Sept. 19 to entrepreneurship.

Among those scheduled to speak on this subject is Albuquerque-native Linda Alvarado, president and CEO of Alvarado Construction, a commercial general contractor based in Denver. In keeping with breaking non-traditional roles, Alvarado made history as the first Hispanic (male or female) owner of a Major League Baseball franchise. As an owner of the Colorado Rockies, her role is also significant as it marked the first time any woman was involved in a bid for ownership of a Major League Baseball team.

Also addressing entrepreneurial issues is Las Cruces-native Myrtle Potter, one of America's foremost health care leaders. Potter was president and COO of Genentech, president of Bristol-Myers Squibb's $4 billion U.S. cardiovascular/metabolic business, and vice president at Merck. Today, she is CEO of Myrtle Potter & Company, a health care advisory firm, and Myrtle Potter Media, a consumer health care company.

Rounding out the entrepreneurial speakers is the Rev. Robert Sirico. The Roman Catholic priest has been active in public policy affairs for more than 20 years. His concern that religious communities knew little about the economic issues surrounding today's social problems prompted him to found the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty in 1990. He regularly lectures both in this country and around the world, and his writings have appeared in numerous publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and Forbes.

National Security

National security issues take center stage early on the second day of the Domenici Conference.

Michael Hurley, who served as a senior counsel and team leader on the 9/11 Commission, will address national security threats and the needed public policy responses. He was National Security Council director for the Balkans, and as a career CIA operations officer he also led agency personnel and U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan immediately after the 9/11 attacks. Hurley served as a counterterrorism special adviser for Middle East Security to Special Envoy Gen. James Jones and as a counterterrorism special adviser to Sen. Sam Nunn, Ted Turner and their Washington, D.C.-based Nuclear Threat Initiative. Hurley also served as a counterterrorism special adviser to the U.S. State Department.

Looking at U.S. military readiness will be retired U.S. Air Force four-star general and NMSU alumnus Lester Lyles. During his 35 years of service, Lyles managed large research and development, science and technology organizations, and programs for the Air Force and the Department of Defense. He commanded the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, managed the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, served as the 27th Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force and commanded the Air Force Materiel Command. He retired in 2003 and is a member of the President's Intelligence Advisory Board, the Defense Science Board, the NASA Advisory Council and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the National Academy of Engineering. Lyles received a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from NMSU.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has been invited to make remarks on issues important to the state.

The 2012 Domenici Public Policy Conference costs $50 to attend. Online registration for the conference begins Aug. 1 at domenici.nmsu.edu. The event is free to NMSU students. For more information or to receive an invitation by mail, call the Domenici Institute at 575-646-2066.

This project is partially sponsored by the Department of the Army, Office of the Surgeon General. The content of the information does not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the U.S. government and no official endorsement should be inferred.