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FOR EXPERT COMMENT: MU Political Science and Communication Experts Available for Comment on State of the Union address

January 25th, 2011

Story Contact: MU News Bureau, 573-882-6211,

The views and opinions expressed in this “for expert comment” release are based on research and/or opinions of the researcher(s) and/or faculty member(s) and do not reflect the University’s official stance.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Tonight’s presidential State of the Union address is highly anticipated, and University of Missouri political science and communication experts will be among those watching the commander in chief’s address to the U.S. Congress and the nation.

L. Marvin Overby, MU professor and Frederick A. Middlebush Chair in Political Science, believes that President Barak Obama’s tone will attempt to balance the Republican majority in the House of Representatives and the president’s own surging approval ratings. Overby also will be monitoring  how the tragic events in Arizona influence the evening’s rhetoric and symbolisms, including how many legislators sit with colleagues of the other party.

Overby’s research interests include legislative rules and procedures, the historical institutionalization of American state legislatures, campaign advertising, minority politics, the role of party leaders and partisanship in legislatures, and Southern politics.

Overby may be contacted by phone at (573) 882-2130 (office) or (573) 239-5029 (cell) and by email at

Mitchell McKinney, MU associate professor of communication, is teaching a graduate level course this semester on presidential rhetoric. His research interests include presidential debates, political campaigns, media and politics, presidential rhetoric, and civic engagement.

McKinney has combined practical political experience with his training as a political communication scholar, having served as a staff member in the U.S. Senate and the White House. He has served as a consultant to C-SPAN and the U.S. Commission on Presidential Debates, advising the commission on how debates might be structured in order to better educate voters. McKinney also served as an adviser for the Korean government as officials planned their 2002 televised presidential debates. McKinney has provided expert political commentary for such national media as the New York Times, USA Today, CNN and NPR.

McKinney may be contacted by phone at (573) 882-9230 (office) or (573) 489-9709 (cell) and by email at