The Bully Pulpit

USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future

Bringing together top Republicans and Democrats to transcend partisan divisions and explore solutions to our most pressing national and global challenges


The Bully Pulpit

At the USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future, we bring together top Republicans and Democrats to transcend partisan divisions and explore solutions to our most pressing national and global challenges. Join veteran strategists Bob Shrum and Mike Murphy along with other Center staff and major voices in the Bully Pulpit for fun conversations that advance civil dialogue and practical politics. When President Theodore Roosevelt coined the phrase bully pulpit, bully meant “wonderful”; and Roosevelt, according to the Oxford Dictionary, was envisioning “an outstanding opportunity to speak out on any issue.” Hear from famous people who’ve known success and setbacks, whether they worked for Donald Trump or Barack Obama, G.W. Bush or Bill Clinton, the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. The conversations go behind the curtain with elected officials, campaign staff, journalists, academics, pundits, and political operatives. Every exchange is guided by standards central to the Center’s mission: Respect each other and respect the truth. Opponents are adversaries, not enemies. And if you lose, don’t burn down the stadium. The Bully Pulpit was formerly called Election R&D.

Featured Guests

Where To Start

President Joe Biden’s First 100 Days - How Strong is Trump’s Hold on the GOP?

CPF Co-Director Mike Murphy is joined by former Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, journalists Robert A. George and Jeremy Peters, and President Trump’s former White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, to discuss how the impact of Republican voter support of the former president translates into influence within GOP leadership.


Mike Murphy - Co-Director, USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future; NBC Political Analyst

Barbara Comstock - Former U.S. Representative (R-VA) , Spring '21 Fellow, Center for the Political Future

Robert A. George - Columnist, Bloomberg Opinion

Mark Meadows - Former White House Chief of Staff, President Donald Trump and U.S. Representative (R-NC); Senior Partner, The Conservative Partnership Institute

Jeremy W. Peters - National Politics Reporter, New York Times; Contributor to MSNBC; Author, "Insurgency: How Republicans Lost Their Party and Got Everything They Ever Wanted"

Apocalypse Then and Now: Millenarian Cults to QAnon

CPF Co-Director Mike Murphy is joined by historians Sylvain Piron and Jay Rubenstein, former Congressman Denver Riggleman, and Marley Clements, co-creator of "QAnon: The Search For Q" on Vice, to examine the similarities between the Apocalyptic and Millenarian cults in the Middle ages to modern conspiracies around Y2K and QAnon.


  • Mike Murphy - Co-Director, USC Dornsife Center for the Political Future
  • Marley Clements - Documentary filmmaker, political strategist, and co-founder of Bunker Crew Media
  • Sylvain Piron - Director of Studies and Chair of Intellectual History of Medieval Societies at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris, France
  • Denver Riggleman - Former U.S. Congressman (R-VA); CEO of Riggleman Information and Intelligence Group (RIIG); Author, "Bigfoot... It's Complicated"
  • Jay Rubenstein - Director, USC Center for the Pre-Modern World and Professor of History at the University of Southern California

The 74 Million Voter Question: Why Did Trump Get So Many Votes?

Center Director Bob Shrum is joined by authors Thomas Frank and Theodore R. Johnson, Strategist Patrick Griffin, and Former Congresswoman Mimi Walters to discuss how Donald Trump built the second-largest voting bloc in U.S. election history

Thomas Frank - Political Analyst; Author of "The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism"

Patrick Griffin - Founding Partner and CEO, Merrimack Potomac + Charles (MP+C); Fall 2019 Visiting Fellow, Center for the Political Future

Theodore R. Johnson - Fellows Program Director at the Brennan Center for Justice; Author of "When the Stars Begin to Fall: Overcoming Racism and Renewing the Promise of America”

Mimi Walters - Former U.S. Representative (R-CA) and Fall 2020 Fellow, Center for the Political Future

Meet The Hosts

Bob Shrum

Co-host, Director, Chair in Practical Politics

Robert Shrum is the Director of the Center for the Political Future and the Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics at USC Dornsife. A legendary political strategist, he was once described as "the most sought-after consultant in the Democratic Party," by The Atlantic Monthly. He was a speechwriter for Senator George McGovern in the 1972 presidential campaign and for Senator Edward Kennedy in the 1980 presidential campaign. He served as the Senator’s Press Secretary in the early 1980s and as a political consultant and strategist in his subsequent Senate campaigns. He was also the strategist in over 25 other winning U.S. Senate campaigns, eight successful campaigns for governor, successful campaigns for mayors in major American cities, and numerous campaigns for Congress and other statewide offices. His clients included Joe Biden, John Glenn, Barbara Mikulski, David Dinkins, and Tom Bradley - and John Kerry and Al Gore in their presidential races. Overseas his clients included Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the British Labour Party, the Prime Minister of Ireland, and the Presidents of Colombia and Bolivia. In 2005 he shifted his attention to the academic world. Professor Shrum teaches several classes at USC on domestic policy, applied politics, and elections. He had previously taught at New York University, was a Silliman Fellow at Yale, and Kennedy Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Edward M Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.

Mike Murphy

Co-Host; Co-Director

Mike Murphy is the Co-Director of the Center for the Political Future at USC. Murphy is one of the Republican Party’s most successful political media consultants, having handled strategy and advertising for more than 26 successful gubernatorial and senatorial campaigns. His record in helping Republicans win Democratic states is unmatched by any other GOP consultant. Murphy has been called a “media master” by Fortune magazine, the GOP’s “hottest media consultant” by Newsweek, and the leader of a “new breed” of campaign consultants by Congressional Quarterly. He is a widely known political pundit, appearing frequently on NBC, CNN, and NPR. Previously, he served as a regular on the Meet the Press political roundtable and wrote the “Murphy’s Law” column for TIME Magazine. Murphy served as senior strategist for both John McCain’s first campaign for President in 2000 and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s historic election as Governor of California. Murphy has worked on successful campaigns for many GOP Governors and Senators including Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Terry Branstad, Lamar Alexander, Jeff Sessions, Slade Gorton, Dirk Kempthorne, Tommy Thompson and John Engler. In the 2016 primary season, Murphy served as the chief strategist to the Right to Rise PAC, which supported Jeb Bush’s candidacy. In 2020 Murphy joined former aides to George W. Bush and John McCain to endorse Joe Biden for president. He has advised political leaders in six foreign countries, too. A partner in the Washington, DC based Revolution Agency, Murphy also advises several Fortune 500 corporations and several of America’s largest trade associations.

Where To Listen

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