News Story

Oracle reports live from Tampa at GOP Convention

ORU Government Professor Sonny Branham is attending the Republican National Convention this week in Tampa, Fla., as a member of the press corps and will share liveProfessor Sonny Branham reports through Facebook, Twitter, Skype and www.oruoracle.com.

Branham obtained press credentials through the Oracle and traveled to Florida so he could experience the political process firsthand and share his insights with students and the ORU community. The Louisa, Ky., native and his wife owned and published the Cumberland County (Ky.) News from 1974 to 1980, so this also allows him to rediscover his journalistic roots.

Branham earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in government from Western Kentucky University, where he met his wife. She majored in journalism, and one year after they married they bought the weekly newspaper.

“She taught me how to write a news story, take pictures and develop film,” Branham said. His wife, Judy, sold advertising and designed the 14-16 pages each week.

Branham said his interest in government began in 1960 when he was 11 and John F. Kennedy campaigned for president. “He energized so many people,” Branham said.

He also credits a high school teacher for really piquing his interest during his senior year, leading him to study government in college. Branham entered college in 1968 during the Vietnam War when Richard Nixon defeated Hubert Humphrey in the presidential election.

“I thought I’d be a bureaucrat,” Branham said of his career plans. “I wanted a good, reliable job in the public sector.”

He never imagined then that one day he would be teaching government.

Branham won’t be seen around ORU’s campus this fall. He is teaching this semester in Washington, D.C., through the American Studies Program. He will lead a class on immigration policy and supervise six of the program’s 40 students. Each student must intern on Capitol Hill or at a Washington think tank while taking classes .

Three ORU students are participating this semester in the program: Beatriz Lozano, Megan Jenkins and Rachel Curylo.

The D.C. program is allowing Branham to step out of the classroom this week and attend the Republican convention. This will culminate a year of attending conventions at every level of government. Branham attended the Tulsa County convention as well as Oklahoma’s First Congressional District and statewide events.

He said what he most wants to learn from the national convention is “what issues are most important to people.”

Branham said the convention is meant to “showcase the candidate and hope he gets a bounce in the polls,” heading into the Nov. 6 presidential election. Republicans will try to get people to warm up to Romney and get to know who he is.

Branham’s job will be different. His job as professor-turned-journalist this week is to provide some insights into what’s happening behind the scenes at the convention. He encourages students and faculty to tune into television coverage from all the major networks this week and not focus on a single media outlet.

The Republicans will officially open the convention at 1 p.m. Monday (CDT)but then immediately recess until 1 p.m. Tuesday as Tropical Storm Isaac passes along Florida’s Gulf coast. The convention ends Thursday when Romney accepts the party’s nomination, between 9 and 10 p.m. (CDT).

The Democratic National Convention will be held Sept. 4 to 6 in Charlotte, N.C. Another member of ORU’s government faculty tried to get press credentials to attend that event but was unable to because the application deadline was in April.

The above news story was taken from the Oral Roberts University Oracle website at oruoracle.com.