Lisa Witter is the chief operating officer of Fenton Communications, the largest public interest communications firm in the country. She heads the firm's practice in women's issues and global affairs for clients including Women for Women International, MoveOn.org, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, the American Medical Association, the American Lung Association and many others. She is a co-founder of the award-winning website SheSource.org, an online brain trust of women experts to help close the gender gap among commentators in the news media. She was honored as an outstanding activist and expert on women's issues by Oxygen.com for her work on a national campaign against privatizing Social Security during the 2000 presidential election. Lisa is a blogger and political commentator with her work appearing on MSNBC, Fox News, The Huffington Post, AlterNet and Anderson Cooper 360. In 2004, she was a contestant on the Showtime reality show American Candidate. Witter is co-author of The She Spot: Why Women Are the Market for Changing the World and How to Reach Them.
She is on the advisory board for Indianapolis University's Women and Philanthropy Institute, Pop!Tech, Momsrising.org, Women for Women International and Climate Counts.
Question: What’s the key to partisan positioning?
Lisa Witter: Well I think the biggest challenge is if you frame things as a Republican versus a Democrat you’ll never get out of that paradigm and sometimes you have to because Washington works, you’re a Democratic Republican and you go in and vote. But everyone shares some certain value and I think if we focus on the values that people care about. Take the tobacco reduction, you know, almost in most places at least in New York City and California and Seattle and a lot of cities, you can’t smoke anymore and if you used to talk to Republican and say, you know, “Oh we’re gonna ban smoking,” their value system would have said “No government can’t tell me what to do, I’m gonna smoke.” So what we had to do is think about what is the shared value system, well that shared value system is we want people to go into a work place and not have their health in danger and we don’t want our children’s health in danger. So instead of looking at what divides us, we have to look at what brings us together and I believe honest to god that there are much more things that bring us together. So it’s sort of how you choose to pick your fight, that’s the outcome that you’re gonna have if you come together and find, you know, it was interesting, when I was on this reality TV show, my political consultant was Frank Luntz okay so Frank Luntz is like the Republican like he’s the guy who came off the language for contract with America. When I first met him I was highly skeptical, like “Oh my gosh, this guy’s a Republican, I’m a die-hard liberal” but then I learned a lot from him. I learned a lot about how to bring people together and then help move people in another direction and I think that Barack Obama is really trying to do that this election.