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February 17, 2007

Obama's Vietor Moves to Iowa as LaBolt Comes Aboard

Barackobama_1 Politico's Ben Smith reports on personnel shifts within Barack Obama's '08 press shop:

Obama Senate press secretary Tommy Vietor e-mailed reporters today that he's moving to Iowa with the campaign, and writes of his successor, Ben LaBolt: "Ben is a Virgo who enjoys talking on phone with reporters and leaking like a sieve." Nice.

February 15, 2007

People: Salazar Spokesguy to AARP

A few miscellaneous people updates, courtesy of PF tipsters:

  • Drew Nannis joins Capitol Hill alums Jill Greenberg, Cecelia Prewett, and Meghan O’Shaughnessy on the new AARP Media Relations team helmed by former White House/Centcomm/Public Strategies flack, Mark Kitchens.  Drew will be leading media strategy on health issues for the organization as they head into the 2008 election season.  Before joining AARP, Drew served as press secretary for Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO), with stints in the offices of Reps. Pete Stark (D-CA), Marion Barry (D-AR), and Pharma (release).
  • Scot Montrey has been hired as Press Secretary for U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN).  Montrey was previously Communications Director for the Cyber Security Industry Alliance, Press Secretary for U.S. Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and also worked in press on the House side (PF tipster)
  • Geoff Embler has been hired as the new Press Secretary for U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX).  Embler was previously Press Secretary for Reps. Radanovich (R-CA), Cantor (R-VA), and was the top flack for the House Republican Conference under Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-OH).  He also worked in press on the winning campaigns of Tim Pawlenty for Minnesota Governor in 2002 and Jim DeMint for Senate in South Carolina in 2004 (PF tipster).
  • David Snepp, formerly Press Secretary to Sen. George Allen (R-VA), has accepted the Communications Director job for moderate Republican Olympia Snowe (R-ME).  Snepp is a former reporter and hails from North Carolina (PF tipster)

February 14, 2007

Hillary's Comms Team "Built for Rapid Response"

Hillaryclinton_2 The New York Observer takes a look at Hillary Clinton's campaign press team, which "is not built for charm and outreach. With a media war room filled with hardened alumni of Senator Charles Schumer’s press office—Howard Wolfson, Phil Singer, Blake Zeff—Mrs. Clinton created a team cut out, above all, for rapid response."  More:

Her disciplined and highly touted communications operation keeps the media at arm’s length, reflecting the wariness of a woman who has been the subject of more press scrutiny than just about any other elected official in the world. At the same time, her press people have arguably emerged as the most aggressive of any on the Democratic side, criticizing opponents John Edwards and, this week, Barack Obama for their perceived mischaracterizations of her complicated position on Iraq.

February 06, 2007

Menendez Flack Takes Over at DSCC

PoliticsNJ reports that "Matthew Miller, the talented, battle-tested spokesman for Bob Menendez's 2006 U.S. Senate campaign, is the new Communications Director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. He will leave Menendez's office at the end of the week to take on the task of strengthening the Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate. Miller has worked on Menendez's Senate and House staffs, and for presidential candidate John Kerry."

February 05, 2007

Laura Bush's Spokesgal Leaving White House

Via Washington Whispers:

The first lady's able and gracious spokeswoman, Susan Whitson, tells us that she's leaving to start a family after nearly two years in the East Wing. "Being Mrs. Bush's press secretary has been the single best job I have had," she says. But not an easy one, that's for sure. Just consider the diversity of calls she gets from reporters: everything from questions about the once-partying twins to interview requests for first pup Barney. Whitson says she just recently decided to leave Washington and move permanently to Washington, Va., home of the famous Inn at Little Washington and where she and her hubby have a house.

February 03, 2007

More Blogger-Flack Relations, Giuliani Edition

Rudygiuliani2_1 After reading our post on Team Biden's blogger relations, a tipster points us toward this writeup of Rudy Giuliani's recent quasi-campaign trip to New Hampshire.  As a blogger tried to cover Rudy's event from the press area (after receiving a press pass from the event organizers), he claims that one of Rudy's flacks tried to kick him out:

All of a sudden, a blond blur of Blackberry, Gucci, Neiman Marcus and Prada bustled over to me and chirped, "What are YOU doing here?" And then, without letting me even answer the question, Gucci continued, "YOU can't be down here!"

"I'm press," I responded. Nicely. Holding up my press pass. Gucci's jeweled snout snorted, "Oh? With who?" "I have a Blog. I'm covering the New Hampshire Primary.."

Gucci didn't let me finish, "Bloggers aren't allowed down here. This area is for press." I held up my press pass again. Nicely. Gucci actually started to check her Blackberry as she continued the conversation, "You can't be up here," she repeated herself.

According to the blogger's account, Giuliani's flack ultimately relented after learning that the state party had approved the blogger's pass.  Another source in the room tells us that the blogger's account isn't accurate.  Whatever the true story, bloggers' coverage of campaign events is definitely creating some challenges for campaign flacks.

Glut of DC Gossip Columnists Keeping Flacks Busy

Gossip NYT's Mark Leibovich takes a look at the proliferation of DC gossip columnists (otherwise known as The Reliable Source, In the Loop, The Sleuth, In the Know, Under the Dome, Heard on the Hill, Yeas and Nays, Shenanigans, and The Crypt).  It seems all these scribes are keeping Capitol Hill spokesguys and gals busy:

So what does this all mean?

“It means I have to spend a lot more of my time fielding calls and e-mails from gossip columnists,” said a slightly exasperated Jim Manley, the top communications aide to Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader.

Mr. Manley had just finished responding to an e-mail message from a Roll Call reporter about whether Mr. Reid knew the date of Valentine’s Day.

February 02, 2007

Lesson For Hill Flacks: How Not to Deal with Bloggers

Joebiden Lots of Hill flacks have told us stories of feeling burned by bloggers after engaging in well-meaning outreach on their bosses' behalf.  Danny Glover of Beltway Blogroll shares a cautionary tale involving Sen. Joe Biden (right) spokesguy Eric Carbone and Daily Kos.  Glover tells Hill flacks:

You're much better off griping to me about bloggers on background than you are going on the record and taking your complaints directly to the source. Odds are good that the blogger you criticize is going to react just as Kos did -- by mocking you and attacking your boss with even more ferocity.

Not a bad idea...someone should take him up on that offer. 

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    Matt Mackowiak is a Washington, D.C. and Austin,TX-based Republican strategist and communications consultant and President of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC. In his career he has managed a winning Congressional campaign and worked in the U.S. Senate, at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, at a leading international PR firm, on a presidential campaign in Iowa and in White House presidential advance. Follow him on Twitter - @MattMackowiak

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