Steve Schmidt

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Steve Schmidt
Steve Schmidt 2012 Shankbone.JPG
Schmidt at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival
Born Stephen Edward Schmidt
(1970-09-08) September 8, 1970 (age 47)
North Plainfield, New Jersey, U.S.
Alma mater University of Delaware, Newark
Political party Republican

Stephen Edward Schmidt[1] (born 1970) is an American communications and public affairs strategist best known for strategic roles on Republican political campaigns including those of George W. Bush, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and U.S. Senator John McCain. He specializes in "message development and strategy."[2] Schmidt was the senior campaign strategist and advisor to the 2008 presidential campaign of Senator John McCain.[3] He is the Vice Chairman of Public Affairs at the global communications and marketing firm Edelman[4] and a political analyst for MSNBC.

Early life and education

The son of a school teacher and a telecommunications executive, Schmidt grew up in North Plainfield, New Jersey where he became an Eagle Scout, a tight end on the high school football team,[5] a two-year member of the National Honor Society, and senior class vice president. In 1988, he was one of two graduating seniors voted "most likely to succeed" by his classmates at North Plainfield High School.[6] He handed out campaign materials for Democrat Bill Bradley's 1978 Senate campaign.[7]

Schmidt attended the University of Delaware from 1988 through the spring of 1993, majoring in political science.[8] He left three credits short of graduating because he did not pass a math course; Schmidt has said that he has been diagnosed with a learning disability that makes higher math difficult for him.[5] He joined the Delta Tau Delta fraternity,[6] was a member of the campus Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program, and did field work for Republican candidates in Delaware, sometimes wearing campaign buttons to class.[8] Steve finally graduated in the class of 2013.[9]


Steve Schmidt and his wife Angela[10] have two children.[11]


Early campaigns

In 1995, Schmidt managed the unsuccessful campaign for Kentucky Attorney General of Will T. Scott, who is now a Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court.[12] This Kentucky campaign's advertising strategy was featured in the second edition of George Magazine.

In 1998, Schmidt ran California State Senator Tim Leslie's unsuccessful race for Lt. Governor of California.[13] Also that year, he was the Communications Director for California State Treasurer Matt Fong's unsuccessful campaign to unseat U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.[14] In 1999, he was the Communications Director for Lamar Alexander's presidential run, leaving in June when the campaign reduced its senior staff.[15]

Washington, D.C.

By late 2000, Schmidt was communications director of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.[16][17]

In 2001, he was the spokesman of the National Republican Congressional Committee,[18] becoming the Communications Director by 2002. He left the NRCC in early 2003 to work for the lobbying firm Direct Impact Company.[citation needed]

Schmidt joined the Bush administration as a Deputy Assistant to the President and Counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney. In 2004, he was a member of the senior strategic planning group, led by White House adviser Karl Rove, that ran President George W. Bush's re-election campaign; Schmidt oversaw the reelection "war room".[13] In 2005 and 2006, he was the White House strategist responsible for the U.S. Supreme Court nominations of Samuel Alito[19] and Chief Justice John Roberts.[13]


In 2006, Schmidt left the White House to become the campaign manager in the re-election campaign for California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.[19] From there, he became a partner in Mercury Public Affairs, part of Fleishman-Hillard International Communications, in charge of Mercury's operations in California.[20]

2008 McCain presidential campaign

On July 2, 2008, Schmidt was appointed to head up day-to-day operations of the McCain campaign in response to concerns that the campaign lacked coordination and a clear message. Rick Davis retained the formal title of "campaign manager".[21][22]

Press commentary

The New York Times described Schmidt's management as having transformed the McCain campaign into "an elbows-out, risk-taking, disciplined machine," crediting him with aggressive responses to press criticism and creative methods of manipulating the news cycle.[23]

Time's Michael Scherer, in an opinion piece from September 15, 2008 relating to Schmidt's involvement with John McCain's presidential campaign stated that Schmidt, the "lord of outrage, has a long and prosperous career ahead of him."[24]

Stance on gay rights

Schmidt voiced his support for gay rights at meeting of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay Republican group. He said: "I just wanted to take a second to come by and pay my respect and the campaign's respect to your organization and to your group. Your organization is an important one in the fabric of our party." [25]

Schmidt said about his lesbian sister and her life partner: "On a personal level, my sister and her partner are an important part of my life and our children's life. I admire your group and your organization and I encourage you to keep fighting for what you believe in because the day is going to come."[25]

In February 2013, Schmidt along with 74 other Republicans co-signed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court of the United States in support of overturning Proposition 8. “The die is cast on this issue when you look at the percentage of younger voters who support gay marriage,” he was quoted as saying. “As Dick Cheney said years ago, ‘Freedom means freedom for everybody.’ ”[26]

Other professional activities

University of Delaware Center for Political Communication

Together with David Plouffe, President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign manager, Schmidt founded the Center for Political Communication at the University of Delaware.[27]

JUST Capital

Schmidt serves on the board of nonprofit research organization JUST Capital, alongside Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, and others.[28]

Game Change

Schmidt is portrayed by Woody Harrelson in the HBO film Game Change. The film, based on chapters of the book of the same title by political journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, focuses on the choice of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate in the 2008 United States presidential election. Schmidt is shown as initially pushing for the choice of Palin, before later thinking she was unqualified for the job and had limited knowledge of current affairs.[29] Schmidt himself voiced his approval of the film, saying that "it tells the truth of the campaign"[30] and that watching the film was tantamount to "an out-of-body experience."[31]


  1. ^ Free Republic Forum, January 11, 2010
  2. ^ Cillizza, Chris (December 20, 2006). "McCain Hires Another Bush Insider". The Fix (blog). The Washington Post. Retrieved January 26, 2013. [dead link]
  3. ^ Halloran, Liz (August 1, 2008). "Republicans Press Celebrity Attack on Obama". US News and World Report. Washington DC. Retrieved August 8, 2008. 
  4. ^ "Speaker Bio: Steve Schmidt - Washington Speakers Bureau". Retrieved 2017-11-29. 
  5. ^ a b Romano, Lois (August 21, 2008). "The Silver Bullet: Steve Schmidt Makes Sure His Candidate Knows Exactly What He Is Shooting For". The Washington Post. 
  6. ^ a b "University of Delaware Delt plays pivotal role on McCain campaign staff". Home News Tribune and the Courier News. September 7, 2008. [dead link]
  7. ^ Marinucci, Carla (February 12, 2006). "Governor's team adds former Rove protege:Political 'artillery shell' joins re-election effort". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  8. ^ a b Barrish, Chris (September 15, 2008). "Another kingmaker has links to Delaware: McCain strategist was a student at UD". The News Journal. Wilmington DE. Retrieved November 15, 2015. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Udaily". University of Delaware. Retrieved 18 November 2017. 
  10. ^ [ The Immoral Minority Blog, May 24, 2012[
  11. ^ Republican National Convention Blog: Steve Schmidt Biography
  12. ^ Justice Will T. Scott Archived March 3, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., Retrieved November 15, 2015.
  13. ^ a b c Morain, Dan; Drogin, Bob (October 6, 2008). "Steve Schmidt: The driving force behind John McCain". Los Angeles Times. 
  14. ^ Cillizza, Chris (September 7, 2008). "Sunday Reading: Steve Schmidt Examined". The Washington Post. 
  15. ^ Firestone, David (June 4, 1999). "Alexander Cuts Staff And Travel". The New York Times. Retrieved November 15, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Steve Schmidt biography". July 4, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2008. 
  17. ^ Lilienthal, Steve (November 27, 2000). "Republican congressional exec quits for private work". PR Week USA. 
  18. ^ Shenon, Philip (March 29, 2001). "While Senate Debates, It's Fund-Raising as Usual". The New York Times. 
  19. ^ a b Marinucci, Carla (February 12, 2006). "Governor's team adds former Rove protege". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  20. ^ Martin, Jonathan; Allen, Mike (July 3, 2008). "A dose of discipline for McCain's campaign". The Politico. 
  21. ^ Dan Balz and Michael D. Shear (July 2, 2008). "McCain Puts New Strategist Atop Campaign". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 2, 2008. 
  22. ^ Martin, Jonathan (July 2, 2008). "Schmidt takes control of day-to-day operation". Retrieved September 7, 2008. 
  23. ^ Rutenberg, Jim; Nagourney, Adam (September 6, 2008). "An Adviser Molds a Tighter, More Aggressive McCain Campaign". The New York Times. Retrieved September 17, 2008. 
  24. ^ Scherer, Michael (September 15, 2008). "McCain's Outraged and Outrageous Campaign". Time. New York. Retrieved September 16, 2008. 
  25. ^ a b Eleveld, Kerry (September 4, 2008). "McCain's Top Strategist Addresses Log Cabin Republicans". Retrieved September 29, 2008. [dead link]
  26. ^ Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (February 25, 2013). "Republicans Sign Brief in Support of Gay Marriage". The New York Times. Retrieved February 26, 2012. 
  27. ^ Beard, Paul (October 19, 2009). "Former McCain, Obama Aides Schmidt and Plouffe Join at University of Delaware". U.S. News & World Report. 
  28. ^ "Board — JUST Capital". JUST Capital. Retrieved 2017-11-22. 
  29. ^ Dunn, Geoffrey (March 7, 2012), "Game Change: Sarah Palin and the Confessions of Steve Schmidt", Huffington Post, retrieved March 9, 2012 
  30. ^ Rainey, James (February 18, 2012). "Choosing sides on Sarah Palin". Los Angeles Times. 
  31. ^ David Frum, "HBO's 'Game Change' Charts Sarah Palin's Revenge", Retrieved November 15, 2015.

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