Iowa and New Hampshire get first crack at shaping the 2016 presidential campaign. But the road to the White House will soon run through Virginia – home to a critical primary in March, the vice presidential debate at Longwood next October, and 13 key electoral votes sure to be closely contested in the general election.

There’s no more influential voice on Virginia politics than Jeff Schapiro, Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist and dean of the state’s political reporting corps, who has wielded his aggressive-but-fair pen on the political front lines for 30 years. Schapiro will be on campus Feb. 4 to discuss the fallout of the Iowa caucuses, the upcoming election, Virginia’s unique place on the national stage, and to answer questions.

The bespectacled journalist, most often sporting a bowtie, has covered Virginia elections and political news for 30 years, stringing for such august publications as The Economist in addition to his day job of writing a twice-weekly column that provides reflection and context to the news stories of the day. As hundreds of state government reporting positions have disappeared nationally, Virginia is fortunate to have a veteran reporter such as Schapiro to explain policy choices and hold public figures accountable.

Schapiro will speak as part of the President’s Lecture Series on Thursday, Feb. 4, at 4 p.m. in Blackwell Ballroom. His address is titled Mother and Maker of Presidents: 2016 Politics in Battleground Virginia. A light reception will follow, and guests are encouraged to stay for a performance by the Richmond Symphony that evening in Jarman Auditorium. (Tickets for the concert are $20 and are available from the Longwood Box Office.)

"Jeff Schapiro is a giant in the field of journalism in the state, a free-thinking voice who has witnessed and reported on the ebbs and flows of Virginia politics," said Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV. "He brings a unique perspective to the President’s Lecture Series, and we are happy to welcome him back to campus as the gears of debate preparations start turning in earnest. I can’t think of a more fitting person to bring to campus as part of a year’s worth of activity leading up to the debate, nor of a finer Thursday evening than a stirring and entertaining discussion with one of the finest minds in the state."

The veteran newsman joined the Times-Dispatch in 1987 after reporting from the Virginia Capitol for United Press International and Virginia Business Magazine. His columns appear Wednesdays and Sundays in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and other statewide papers. His video column is posted Thursdays to the Times-Dispatch’s website. He last visited Longwood in January 2014 to deliver a lecture on elections in Virginia.

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