• May 29, 2015

Iowa State Daily

Harkin Institute launches as political analyst visits campus

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Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 2:00 pm | Updated: 7:36 pm, Tue Nov 29, 2011.

The Harkin Institute of Public Policy was officially launched just before the first speech sponsored by the institute was given.

ISU President Gregory Geoffroy said he is honored to have the Harkin Institute at Iowa State.

"[Tom Harkin] is a long-serving senator and is an Iowa State University graduate of 1962 in government and economics," Geoffroy said. "The Harkin Institute is a tribute to Sen. Harkin's outstanding leadership, but more importantly it's a valuable institute for Iowa State and the people of Iowa."

Geoffroy compared the event to other lectures that have taken place at Iowa State, including the Norman Borlaug lecture series.

"Like other campus events ... it's an event that is as much for the broader university community, as is any other lecture," Geoffroy said.

David Peterson, interim director of the Harkin Institute, introduced Charlie Cook, the founder of the Cook Political Report, to the podium.

"If you're like me, you knew a little while ago who Charlie Cook was. He is the preeminent political analyst in the country," Peterson said.

To that, Cook replied, "I don't know about top political analyst in the country, but what about top political analyst standing on this stage right now?"

Cook then praised Iowa State for being the home of the first digital computer, a 2012 Nobel Prize winner and the place where the Rice Krispies Treat was invented.

"What greater contribution to society could a university do than that?" Cook joked.

Cook took some time to comment on the Harkin Institute as well.

"The papers, the exhibits and the lessons to be claimed from Tom Harkin's service in the House will be an enormous benefit to the people at Iowa State," Cook said.

Cook told a story about how 36 years ago, Ronald Reagan gave a speech in which he called for the need to raise a flag with bold colors instead of one with pale pastels.

"The Harkin Institute is no pale pastel. You can agree or disagree with Harkin on a few issues ... or a lot of issues, but you can't deny his tenacity and dedication to public service," Cook said.

Cook said he moved to Washington in 1972 and during that time he had a chance to meet with some great politicians of that time.

"In those 39 years, I've never come across a crusader like Harkin," Cook said.

Cook said a few weeks ago he was visiting the University of Arkansas because it's where his dad, sister and her wife attended college.

He said every graduate from the University of Arkansas has his or her name etched into a sidewalk on campus.

"Needless to say, there are sidewalks to nowhere," Cook said.

Cook said it's a great way to commemorate those who have gone through the university.

Cook then began relating the story to Congress.

"Since 1798, about 15,000 people have served in Congress and very, very few of them will ever be remembered for anything," Cook said.

He said this year America is celebrating the 21st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was introduced by Harkin.

"Very few people will have an event to point to like that," Cook said.

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