The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Announces 2008-2009 Speaker Series

Annual Dinner and Mainstage Memberships Available to Attend Lecture Series that Begins Sept. 22 with Karl Rove

BENTON HARBOR, MICH. — The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan President Michael Cook announced today the lineup for its 66th Speaker Series.  Lecture guests for 2008-2009 include former Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, former 2008 presidential candidate and Governor Mike Huckabee, syndicated columnist and presidential biographer Richard Reeves and “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft.  The Club also plans to invite President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice when they are able to accept speaking engagements after Jan. 21, 2009.

Cook said The Club has made some changes this year so the organization is able to accept new members at its Mainstage and dinner levels. Dinner members hear the speaker in person and Mainstage members watch a live telecast of the speech on a big screen. All events are held at Mendel Center, Lake Michigan College, Benton Township (I-94 Exit 30). Cook encouraged interested new members to visit The Club’s Web site,, or call (269) 982-6010 for registration information. Registrations for renewals and new memberships will be taken until Sept. 17.

Cook said The Club’s series opens Sept. 22 with Karl Rove, President George W. Bush’s former deputy chief of staff and senior advisor (2000-2007). Rove oversaw the strategic planning, political affairs, public liaison and intergovernmental affairs efforts of the White House. He was also deputy chief of staff for policy, coordinating the White House policymaking process. Political writer Fred Barnes calls Rove, "The greatest political mind of his generation and probably of any generation. He knows history, understands the moods of the public and is a visionary on matters of public policy."

Rove’s visit will offer members a rigorous look at how the presidential election results will strategically shape the future course of our country.

On October 22, Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and a former 2008 presidential candidate, will address The Club. Initially an unknown, Huckabee gained national prominence when he won the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses. But Huckabee’s campaign fell short of gaining the nomination and he dropped from the race on March 4. Since then he has dedicated his energies to HuckPac, an organization determined to increase the number of Republicans serving in House, Senate and governor seats. In addition, Huckabee has authored six books, plays bass guitar for a rock band (Capitol Offense) and has served as a pastor.  His on and off the campaign trail experiences will offer members an evening of stimulating discussion.

Richard Reeves will speak Nov. 20. The former chief political correspondent of The New York Times is the author of the acclaimed, best-selling trilogy on the American Presidency, President Kennedy: Profile of Power, President Nixon: Alone in the White House and President Reagan: The Triumph of Imagination. Reeves is a senior lecturer of the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California. He is also a syndicated columnist whose work appears weekly on and in more than 100 newspapers. Known for his groundbreaking perspectives and insights, Reeves will share his comments on American politics, current events and global issues.

After a winter break, The Club will reconvene April 1 to hear “60 Minutes” Correspondent Steve Kroft. He has been a part of CBS News for nearly three decades. His work has won the prestigious Renner Award, 11 Emmys (including a Lifetime Achievement Emmy) and three George Foster Peabody Awards. His “no-holds-barred” news stories have helped to shape the country’s thinking and history. Kroft’s exclusive 1992 interview with then-Governor Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, landed on the front page of almost every newspaper in the country. Many cite it as a defining moment in the presidential election. Kroft will share how reporting events such as these can have a profound impact on society’s attitudes toward the people that make the news.

The Club plans to invite two additional speakers in spring 2009. They are President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Neither can schedule speaking engagements until they leave office Jan. 21, 2009. "The speakers bureau says our club has a good opportunity to get our choices from the current White House administration," said Cook, "and we will notify our membership when we confirm dates."

Attendance at the Speakers Series is limited to Economic Club members only.  For membership information, please visit or call  (269) 982-6010.

EDITOR: To make reservations for the Karl Rove meeting Sept. 22: Please call (269) 982-6010 by Sept. 17.
Dinner:  6:15 p.m. (EDT)    Speech: 7:20 p.m. (EDT)

Upton Hall
Mendel Center for the Arts & Technology
Lake Michigan College
2755 East Napier Avenue (I-94 Exit 30)
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
(Please park on north side and use Upton Hall entrance.)