Dan Pfeiffer: The Next White House Communications Boss

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Dan Pfeiffer

A low-profile aide to President Obama will soon be managing the public face of his Administration. Dan Pfeiffer was named the next White House communications director on Nov. 10, following the announcement that current communications chief Anita Dunn will step down by the end of the year. At 33, Pfeiffer has already worked for half-a-dozen prominent Democrats. He will be Obama's third communications director, following Ellen Moran (now a Commerce Department official) and Dunn. Though not a familiar name or face, Pfeiffer has been an important presence in Obama's inner circle since the early days of his presidential campaign. Among other things, he is credited with seizing on John McCain's comment in the midst of last year's financial crisis that the "fundamentals of the economy are strong" — a line of attack that proved devastating to the Republican. The role of communications director has received unusual attention in recent weeks, with Dunn leading a sharp campaign against the Fox News Channel for being "part of the Republican party." Pfeiffer is widely expected to maintain that combative stance on the Administration's behalf.

Fast Facts:

• Born Dec. 24, 1975 in Wilmington, Del. His mother is a retired teacher, while his father served as the DuPont company's chief financial officer

• Graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University in 1998. Credits his courses and classmates for fueling his interest in government

• Entered Democratic politics immediately after graduating, serving as communications director for President Clinton's initiative to add 100,000 police officers. Joined the communications office of Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2000. Went on to work for the Democratic Governors Association and Democratic Senators Tim Johnson, Tom Daschle and Evan Bayh

• Recruited to Barack Obama's campaign in 2007 by Peter Rouse, a top aide to the then-Senator who had also hired Pfeiffer to work in Sen. Daschle's office. Pfeiffer began as Obama's traveling press secretary and was later named the campaign's communications director. After Obama's victory, he ran the transition's communications effort. He became the White House's Deputy Communications Director when Obama took office in January

• Married fellow Democratic operative Sarah Feinberg in 2006. Pfeiffer met Feinberg, a former longtime aide to current White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, in 2000, when both worked on Gore's presidential campaign. They started dating while working for Sen. Johnson in 2002

Quotes by:

"Shut up! He said what?"
— On hearing John McCain observe that "the fundamentals of the economy are strong" on Sept. 15, 2008 — the day Lehman Brothers collapsed. (New York Times, Nov. 16, 2008)

"We did not do 'cocktail-party interviews.' These are interviews that you agree to because you were always bumping into the reporter at cocktail parties, and they keep asking for the candidate's time. We could laugh every time our opponents would do them."
— Citing an advantage of headquartering the Obama campaign in Chicago rather than Washington. (New York Times, Dec. 17, 2008)

"Watching this campaign grow from a tiny operation in a small office with a half-dozen people to the largest, most organized political organization in history, and now being on the cusp of seeing Barack Obama take the oath of office, is surreal to say the least."
— Reflecting on the Obama campaign during the transition. (The Georgetown Hoya, Jan. 9, 2009)

Quotes about:

"I thought that Dan was brilliant and funny, and he made me feel at ease."
— Feinberg, recalling her first impression of Pfeiffer when they both worked on Al Gore's campaign in 2000. The two were married in 2006. (New York Times, July 16, 2006)