Introduction of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich at Towson University’s Persuasion Class, October 19, 2010

–Richard E Vatz

But for 4-5 words of improvement of clarity, here is the verbatim introduction of Gov. Ehrlich I gave today at Towson University:

I first want to say, as I have for the 18 years or so that Gov. Robert Ehrlich has accepted 2 invitations a year to speak to my advanced Persuasion class, what a pleasure and honor it is to have him grace with his presence Towson University, the finest public university in Maryland, and I am obviously proud and complimented that he has chosen to speak to my class just 2 weeks before his upcoming re-election – I’m sorry – two weeks before the voters choose whether to re-elect him as governor.

I also want to assure the Governor that his audience today is composed of Towson’s finest students, including my advanced classes in Media Criticism and Persuasion, two classes which have distinguished themselves with excellent performances so far this term. I made my perennial effort to not reveal that you would be the “special guest” today, Governor, but students kept saying under their breath, “Does Vatz think we’re idiots?” and then out loud, “So will Gov. Ehrlich be here for the whole class?”

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What they didn’t know is that your candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, Mary Kane, is here, and you know that she and Michael Steele were and are, in the opinion of at least this one professor, exquisite choices for that position. Mrs. Kane served as the Secretary of State in Maryland, and I can tell you that she was the best Secretary of State Maryland has had. Her articulation of the issues facing Maryland and what an Ehrlich administration can do to benefit Maryland is non pareil.

Before I go into my brief introductory remarks, let me welcome some local celebrities who have joined us, and I shall go through the list quickly, because I don’t know for certain who actually made it – please forgive me if I have missed you, for every term I leave out great people who have come: Chancellor Brit Kirwan and President Bob Caret send their regrets that they couldn’t make it…before I welcome a few luminaries who are here, let me send forth a warm hello from the best provost this university has had since the late Dan Jones, Jim Clements, who currently is president at West Virginia University. President Clements said to tell you he would be here if he could to see you, and he wishes he could have attended; I must also tell you, Governor, that he said I should tell you that you’re “the guest of the best Professor at Towson.” As I say, great man; great judgment.

Back to the welcomes: they include from Gov. Ehrlich’s campaign Greg Massoni, communication consultant , and Press Secretary and one of my heroes from the local electronic press, Andy Barth. I do not believe the Governor’s sons, Drew and Joshua, are here, but neither of them sent me an e-mail, so I cannot be sure.

My former great chair Ron Matlon is here, as is John Kastner, the chair of our department’s Board of Advisors.

We have a great former regent, David Nevins, Maryland Representatives Bill Frank and Susan Aumann, and Mark Newgent, my great colleague from Red Maryland. There’s a lot of greatness here.

We have also a variety of excellent Electronic and Print Journalists from around the State and District of Columbia. I invited various top reporters and other media representatives, and there are too many to mention, but I did want to cite my two favorite columnists: Gregory Kane from the Washington Examiner is here, and so is Marta Mossburg from the Sun.

In addition, some of my other colleagues from this great university are here as well, including faculty, administration and staff.

From time to time my Persuasion class is a mite prescient regarding the Governor’s race: I predicted to my class that to you the sales tax increase would be characterized as a 20% increase while to Gov. O’Malley it would be minimized as simply a one-penny increase.

That is exactly what has happened, and we’re hoping you’ll tell my class who is more correct.

While we’re on the subject of rhetoric, which includes the interpretation of facts that are made prominent by the press, today the Gonzales polling group published their latest poll which shows the gap between you and Gov. O’Malley to be 5 points. How do we interpret that five points? Well, The Washington Post had this headline on its blog today, “Another poll shows momentum for O’Malley.” The Baltimore Sun has a much more neutral headline, “New poll: O’Malley five points ahead of Ehrlich,” and for those in my persuasion class, rhetorically you may say that in 3 weeks time from The Washington Post poll to this one, Gov. Ehrlich has cut Gov. O’Malley’s lead by almost 55%.

Governor Ehrlich, we are hoping that you will tell us – or persuade us – regarding why an Ehrlich Administration brings would make a difference on the issues of unemployment and the job market for my students and taxes and, of course, other issues that affect them.

I am now going to present you with the candidate for Governor whom I first invited to be a guest speaker in my class 18 years ago when I noted that, as a conservative, all of then-State Representative Ehrlich’s positions were similar to my own. As I mentioned, he has been a guest every year, twice a year since, including his years as Governor. He served in Towson; he loves Towson; he donated his public congressional and gubernatorial papers to Towson; and most years Towson has returned that appreciation. He is the most regular and decent guy running for public office I have ever known. I now present you, my Persuasion and Media Criticism classes, and ask for a Towson University warm welcome for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich.

Professor Vatz teaches the upper-level course Persuasion at Towson University

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