Image of a man in a blue suit and red tie standing in front of podium, American flag waving in the background

The Role of Consultants in Political Discourse

April 12, 2022
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Old Capitol Senate Chambers OR Livestream

This event was part of the Policy Challenges for Iowa and the Nation series, conducted by the Iowa Board of Regents, the UI College of Law and the UI Public Policy Center.

A political consultant's role can include public relations, sales, and management, but their primary goal is to make voters aware of their candidates' platforms and help present them in the best way possible. This discussion featured a bipartisan panel of political consultants in the state of Iowa and on a national level, who answered questions about defining a platform for a candidate and their opponents, and how to balance positive and negative rhetoric in a campaign.

The event concluded with questions from the audience for the panel to answer about their specific experiences. The discussion can be viewed in its entirety using the link below.

Moderator: Tracy Osborn, professor of Political Science

Panelists: A bipartisan panel with campaign experience provided both a national and state perspective on campaign consulting:

  • Terry Nelson is a political consultant for the Republican Party and founding/managing partner at FP1 Strategies. He was the national political director for President George W Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign and has led successful media campaigns for governors, members of Congress, and ballot measures. Mr. Nelson is a UI alumni.
  • Joe Hansen is a consultant for Democratic Party candidates nationally, and is a partner in Ambrosino, Muir, Hansen and Crounse. Mr Hansen was the successful campaign manager for four U.S. Senate races, executive director of the DSCC, senior political advisor for the DSCC for 3 election cycles, and chief of staff for a member of Congress, field director. Mr Hansen is a UI alumni.
  • Steve Grubbs is an Iowa-based Republican campaign consultant and former state legislator. Mr Grubbs is CEO and co-founder of VictoryXR, a comprehensive political and corporate consulting and communications firm. Mr Grubbs is a UI alumni.
  • Ras Smith is a member of the Iowa House of Representatives (District 62) incorporating much of Waterloo. He also worked on President Obama’s campaign in Iowa.

Topics discussed included:

  • What are the various roles that political consultants play in a campaign?
  • What is the process that political consultants use to help define their candidate?
  • What is the process for how consultants help define their opponents, and how does negative campaigning enter into this process?
  • How does campaign rhetoric spill over into the political divide seen in the US today?

The event was free and open to the public, and can be viewed in its entirety here:


April 13, 2022

Vice President for Research University of Iowa College of Engineering
Regent Iowa Board of Regents
Speaker Remarks and Panel Discussion
Founding/Managing Partner FP1 Strategies
Consultant and Partner Ambrosino, Muir, Hansen, and Crounse Political Consulting and Direct Mail
State Representative, District 62 Iowa Legislature
CEO and Co-Founder VictoryXR
Senior Research Fellow Politics and Policy Research Program
Associate Professor Department of Political Science
The Forkenbrock Series provides a forum for dialogue about policy areas from applied, academic, and interdisciplinary perspectives. The series was established in honor of David Forkenbrock, a nationally recognized transportation researcher. Dr. Forkenbrock established the Public Policy Center at the University of Iowa in 1987 and directed the Center until 2007. His vision was to enable public and private sector decision makers to work with faculty, staff, and student researchers to explore solutions to complex problems related to the public interest.
Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Dragana Petic at