Saul Loeb/The Associated Press
The University of Arizona’s National Institute for Civil Discourse is broadcasting a virtual discussion with former government leaders who speak on the importance of bipartisan response to COVID-19.
The hour-long discussion, “Healthy Bipartisanship in the Time of COVID-19,” will be streamed at 5:30 p.m. Thursday and will include former secretaries of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt and Sylvia Burwell, former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) and U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D) and former Governor and EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman (R).
In this 2012 file photo, retiring Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., center, is greeted by Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., on Capitol Hill in Washington. Giffords and Flake are among six former government representatives that will discuss in a Thursday broadcast the importance of bipartisan leadership during the coronavirus pandemic.
The former leaders will discuss lessons they learned while serving in government that are relevant to the current government’s response to the coronavirus, the institute said in a news release.
Daschle and Whitman will reflect on their time in government when September 11 happened, and talk about the importance of bipartisanship as the country recovered from the terrorist attacks, said Keith Allred, the institute’s executive director and host of Thursday’s discussion.
Leavitt and Burwell will provide advice to the general public and to elected officials on how they should be responding in order to overcome the current pandemic, Allred said.
He said Leavitt reminds people that it’s important to recognize that the virus is biological and is happening regardless of people’s political views, and that pandemics always bring about changes in politics and economics in society.
“They talk through the need to address both the public health and economic parts of it,”Allred said, summarizing Burwell and Leavitt’s part of the pre-recorded discussion. “You can’t really successfully address one and not the other.”
Flake and Giffords will talk about the lessons they learned after the 2011 Tucson mass shooting and how they overcame their political differences in the wake of that tragedy. Flake talks about how he supported his colleague and friend as she recovered from the shooting, Allred said.
Giffords talks about the lessons she learned on her journey to recovery and about an op-ed she recently wrote for USA Today about how those lessons are relevant to Americans as they endure the pandemic.
Allred will also talk about whether members of CommonSense Americans with varying political views support or oppose current bills in congress regarding surprise medical billing.
CommonSense Americans is a program through the institute where more than 13,000 members choose issues to study and discuss and vote on whether they support bipartisan bills on the issue.