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Ask Gleaves: Web feature answers anything about politics and history

Posted on August 10, 2004

Q - Why didn't presidential candidates campaign on their own behalf until the 1900s?
Q - Have families always campaigned with presidential candidates?

These are sample questions that have already been asked of Gleaves Whitney, director of the Hauenstein Center at Grand Valley State University.

You have to go to the newly created Ask Gleaves section at the Hauenstein Center Web site, for the well-researched and enlightening answers. 

No sincere question about politics and history is overlooked, said Whitney. "The first question I fielded dealt with how presidents use humor to achieve political objectives. I gave plenty of examples. I want users to be entertained as well as informed."

Ask Gleaves features a caricature of Whitney, drawing visitors of to the feature that officially began this summer, right in time for questions regarding political conventions, presidential campaigns and the June death of former President Ronald Reagan.

It's proving to be a great source of political and historical insights for the media and the general public. Questions to Ask Gleaves have already come in from inquiring minds from coast-to-coast. Whitney is uniquely qualified to answer these questions as a presidential scholar, historian, author and the former chief historian and speech writer for three-term Michigan Governor John Engler.

"I strive to respond with answers that give readers an overview of the topic of interest with the added bonus of details that make history and politics engaging so people remain interested and remember the stories," explained Whitney.

Based on the feature's early popularity, it is apparent there is a market niche for the service Ask Gleaves provides. There are plans to expand the feature to involve a young audience with Kids Ask Gleaves.

Visit the Hauenstein Center Web site at and Ask Gleaves or call Grand Valley State Universitys News and Information Services at 616-331-2221 for more information.

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