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September 03, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, September 03, 2004

Star rising Star rising (September 03, 2004)

Local man comments on presidential election for CNN

By Julie O'Shea

If you're on top of the world, and still looking up, you might be Carlos Watson.

A 34-year-old Mountain View resident covering the Republican National Convention for CNN this week, Watson is well on his way to television stardom.

With diplomas from Harvard University and Stanford Law School, this self-starter has dabbled in management consulting, educational services and is now an up-and-coming political analyst for the Cable News Network, appearing regularly on "Wolf Blitzer Reports" and the "Paula Zahn Now."

And if that fails to impress, then Watson can pull out one other credential: "Hot Bachelor," an honor bestowed on him in June by People Magazine.

"My friends all tease me about it," said the 6-foot-1 Miami native, leaning against the black couch in the lobby of the Transvideo TV studios on Villa Street, where he tapes many of his live commentaries for CNN.

Watson has been with CNN for about two years, and his network bosses are hoping their rising star's charismatic personality will help pull in a younger demographic.

But don't expect him to relocate to New York. Watson moved to the Peninsula 12 years ago to go to law school and doesn't plan on uprooting himself any time soon.

Asked if it's difficult having his job based in New York when his home is in Mountain View, Watson shakes his head.

"I don't want to do it the way everyone else does it," he said. "I don't want to be IBM, I want to be Google."

Watson admitted that he's traveling more than he's at home, but recognizes "there are a lot worse things I could be doing."

Watson's career path has hardly come as a surprise to Miguel Mendez, a criminal law professor who taught Watson at Stanford in the early '90s.

"He has all the social skills in the world, and he's very down to earth," Mendez said. "Carlos falls into the category of our students who don't do the typical thing. I knew he wasn't going to be a traditional lawyer."

After graduating from Stanford, Watson immediately went to work for McKinsey and Company, a management consulting firm, before quitting a few years later to start Achieva, a college prep and consulting business geared toward students in urban school districts.

He sold Achieva, which he co-founded with his sister and a mutual friend, in 2002 and was looking for his next big adventure, when he received a phone call from a television producer asking if Watson ever thought about a career on the small screen.

"I thought it was a joke," Watson said of the peculiar message on his answering machine. But when the producer called again, Watson suddenly realized this was no joke and immediately called the man back.

So began his television career. Watson quickly became a regular on CNBC, and in late 2003, CNN hired him to help with coverage of the presidential election.

"The issues are so big in this one," Watson said of this year's race. "It's an important decision for the country.

"This could go down as the most significant election since 1932 (when Herbert Hoover faced Franklin D. Roosevelt)."

On a normal week, Watson is on the air eight to 10 times. However, when things get busy, he could easily be on eight to 10 times a day.

"I like what I am doing. I prepare super hard for it," Watson said, noting that he reads dozens of news stories and reviews a lot of polling data before going before the television camera.

In a show of confidence, CNN has agreed to let Watson host his first television special with the network. The special will air Oct. 15, and Watson can hardly wait.

It'll be "a younger, hipper, fresher version of 'Charlie Rose,'" he promised, flashing his trademark smile.

E-mail Julie O'Shea at joshea@mv-voice.com


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