John Edwards, Jack Kemp Speakers at Tom McCall Forum

Reclaiming the American Dream in a Divided Nation is debate topic March 8, 2007, at 25th annual Pacific University event.

(FOREST GROVE, OR) Many young people on college campuses across the nation don’t expect the American dream of home ownership or a life-long job to be within their grasp. Many empty-nester parents find their sons or daughters living at home again after college to make ends meet as they start their careers. What is to be done to reclaim our Founder’s vision and the legacy of the post-WW II America where that promise was very real? Can the social contract be revived and, if so, how?

The 2007 edition of Pacific University’s Tom McCall Forum seeks to answer those questions. Following in its tradition of staging great liberal vs. conservative debates, the 25th annual public affairs forum will feature John Edwards and Jack Kemp discussing “Reclaiming the American Dream in a Divided Nation.”

With Wells Fargo again the presenting sponsor, the Tom McCall Forum will be held Thursday, March 8, 2007, 8 p.m., at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland.

“The Declaration of Independence begins with these soaring words of Thomas Jefferson: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..'” said Russ Dondero, professor emeritus and founder of the Tom McCall Forum. “In the roaring ’90s it appeared that even the poorest among us was beginning to live out that promise. Then came the dot-com bust and with it harder times.

“Despite tax cuts and a stronger economy, there are serious divisions within our nation between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’; between the rich and an increasingly struggling middle class; and between those living in urban and rural America. Many among us are a job loss or catastrophic illness away from being homeless. Will the American dream of a good paying job, home ownership and the safety net  social security to Medicare  be there for future generations?”

John Edwards was born June 10, 1953, in Seneca, S.C. The family moved several times during Edwards’ childhood, eventually settling in Robbins, N.C. He was the first person in his family to attend college, first attending Clemson University and later transferring to North Carolina State University. He attended law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he met his wife, Elizabeth, and served as a lawyer before entering politics. He defeated the incumbent Republican in North Carolina’s 1998 Senate election and during his six-year term sought the Democratic nomination in the 2004 presidential election based on a populist message.

Edwards eventually became the Democratic candidate for Vice President, becoming the running mate of the presidential nominee, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. After Kerry lost the election to the incumbent George W. Bush, Edwards was appointed director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at UNC Chapel Hill.

Jack Kemp was born July 13, 1935 in Los Angeles, Calif. He is a graduate of Occidental College and a former professional football player, having played in both the AFL and NFL leagues. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives for New York, 1971-1989. In 1988 he ran unsuccessfully for the Republican Presidential nomination, and subsequently served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, 1989-93 under President George H. W. Bush. He also was the Republican candidate for the vice presidency in the 1996 presidential election (running with Senator Bob Dole).

Kemp also started the free market advocacy group Empower America, which later merged with Citizens for a Sound Economy to form FreedomWorks. His legacy includes the Kemp-Roth Tax Cut of the 1980s, also known as the first of the two “Reagan tax cuts.’ He also served as a Distinguished Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute where he wrote regularly on economic and regulatory issues.

Created in 1982 by the students and faculty of Pacific University’s Politics and Law Forum, the Tom McCall Forum has become the premier public affairs event in the Northwest, drawing national political figures each year to Portland for a spirited debate between a liberal and a conservative of national interest. Previous debaters have included Pat Buchanan, Tom Daschle, Howard Dean, Richard Perle, Molly Ivins, William Kristol, Bill Bradley, David Gergen, Ralph Nader, Newt Gingrich, Ralph Reed, Alan Dershowitz, James Carville, Mary Matalin, William Safire, John Sununu, Pierre Salinger, Robert Bork, Jesse Jackson, Mario Cuomo, and Dan Quayle.

Tickets for the Forum go on sale Oct. 16 through the Pacific University box office at 503-352-2918 or through Ticketmaster at Prices are $20 or $25.