Robert P. Watson
Dr. Robert P. Watson is a professor, author, frequent media commentator, and former candidate for the United States House of Representatives.
Background and education
Robert Watson was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in 1962 and raised in nearby Hershey. Watson attended public schools in Hershey, where he was an all-star athlete in several sports and earned an athletic scholarship to Virginia Tech where he played football and track. Watson received his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech in 1985. After graduation, he moved to Florida where he received a master’s degree from the University of West Florida in 1987 and his doctorate in public policy from Florida Atlantic University in 1991.
Watson is the author and editor of 36 books on topics in American politics and history, three novels, and has published hundreds of scholarly articles, book chapters, essays, and newspaper editorials. A frequent media commentator, he has been interviewed by local, national, and international print, TV, and radio outlets, including CNN, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News, The New York Times, BBC, USA Today, and others. For many years, he was a Sunday columnist for the Sun-Sentinel newspaper and analyst for WFTL 850 (AM), WIOD 610 (AM), and WPBT 2 (PBS). He is the political analyst for WPTV 5 (NBC).
Watson has served on the boards of many academic journals and presidential foundations, such as the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation, Harry S. Truman Foundation, Western Social Science Association, International Abraham Lincoln Journal, The Social Science Journal, and others and was the founder and editor of the journal, White House Studies. He has convened or co-convened a half-dozen national conferences on the American presidency, directed the annual Truman Legacy Symposium at The Harry S. Truman Little White House, hosted many community “town halls” on current issues, and organized civic education programs for school children.
Watson has won a number of awards, including the 2003 International Abraham Lincoln Center Award, the 2005 Children’s Hero Award for the many civics programs he offers area schools, and the Distinguished Professor of the Year and Faculty Service awards at Florida Atlantic University in 2005 and 2006, and Lynn University's Teacher of the Year in 2010 and 2013. His book America's First Crisis (SUNY Press) won the Gold Medal for history at the Independent Publishers' Book Awards in 2015.
Watson has taught at Troy University, Northern Arizona University, the University of Hawaii-Hilo, Florida Atlantic University, and with the Junior Statesman Foundation at Yale, Stanford, and Georgetown. In 2007 he joined Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida as the Director of American Studies and is also Professor of American Studies. He was instrumental in bringing the Third Presidential Debate of 2012 to Lynn University.
A member of the Democratic Party, Watson formed an exploratory committee in May 2005 to consider running for the United States House of Representatives in Florida's 22nd District, which pitted him against Republican incumbent Rep. Clay Shaw. Watson later withdrew from the race. Shaw was defeated by the eventual Democratic candidate, Ron Klein.
Politically, Watson has long advocated universal health care, strengthening environmental protections, and the need for reform and integrity in politics. Watson continues to organize political debates, town hall programs, and voter registration drives, and regularly offers public lectures on politics and current issues.
In 2006, Watson and Yury Konnikov founded the non-profit think tank Think Act Lead, which advocates political reforms and progressive solutions to public problems; the two also serve on the board of the Florida Initiative for Election Reform.
- The Nazi Titanic: The Incredible Untold Story of a Doomed Ship in World War II (Da Capo Press, 2016)
- America's First Crisis: The War of 1812 (SUNY Press, 2014)
- The Presidents' Wives: The Office of the First Lady in US Politics, 2nd edition (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2014)
- Affairs of State: The Untold History of Presidential Love, Sex, and Scandal (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012)
- The Crossing (Trimark Press, 2015) (with Alex Watson)
- Tsunami (Trimark Press, 2012) (with Alex Watson)
- Israel and the Legacy of Harry S Truman (Truman State University Press, 2006)
- Anticipating Madam President (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003)