Steven Schmidt, an alumnus of the University of Delaware and a Fellow of the Center for Political Communication, is one of the top public affairs and political strategists in the country. He was chief strategist for the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign of Republican Senator John McCain. Schmidt is Vice Chairman for Public Affairs at Edelman, the world’s largest independent public relations firm. Previously, Schmidt was a partner at Mercury Public Affairs, where he led the firm’s operations in California.

Named by PR Week in 2008 as one of the top 25 most powerful leaders in the public relations industry, Schmidt has provided high-level strategic counsel to political candidates, elected officials, and major organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, Hollywood studios and professional sports teams.

Prior to Mercury, he served in positions at the highest levels of politics and government, including Senior Advisor to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign; Campaign Manager for the 2006 re-election of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, an effort The Los Angeles Times called "a nearly flawless campaign." He served President George W. Bush as Deputy Assistant to the President and Counsellor to the Vice President in the White House, where he played leading roles on the confirmation teams for the nominations of both Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court; and a member of the senior strategic planning group that directed Former President Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign.

Schmidt currently serves as a senior strategic counsellor to Edelman on a global basis, and as an advisor to Edelman’s $60 million U.S. Public Affairs practice.

During Schmidt’s tenure in the White House, he advised on a wide range of issues and worked at the intersection of public communications, policy development, legislative advocacy and political strategy. Prior to leading Justice Alito’s confirmation team, Schmidt served in Baghdad, where he worked with U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, to perform a month-long assessment of media relations in the war zone.


Sept 28, 2011 - Steven Schmidt, Chris Lehane

Handicapping the Race

Chris Lehane is a political consultant and crisis communications expert who has served as a lawyer, spokesperson and expert in opposition research for the Clinton White House, Democratic candidates for public office and various business, Labor, entertainment and professional sports organizations. A graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Law School, he was a lawyer and spokesperson in the Clinton White House where he and his current business partner Mark Fabiani were called the "Masters of Disaster" by Newsweek magazine for their part in a "rapid-response" team employed by to respond to the increasing number of investigations of the Clinton Administration.

In 1992, Lehane was the political director of the Clinton-Gore presidential campaign in Maine, and was later brought into the White House where he served as a lawyer in the White House Counsel's Office who worked as part of a small unit responsible for helping the White House manage various scandals throughout the 1990s such as Whitewater and the Monica Lewinsky affair.

In 1995 Lehane authored a 332-page "report" on a media "conspiracy" against the Clintons, of which only 2 and 1/2 pages are written text; the remainder are newspaper and internet clippings. This report was the origin of the phrase "vast right wing conspiracy" that is often attributed to Hillary Clinton. Because of Lehane's scrutiny of the right-wing media "food chain," he is often credited with being a proponent of its methods within the Democratic party.

In the 2000 Presidential campaign, Lehane served as the Press Secretary for Vice President Al Gore. Lehane was credited with improving Gore's press relations with the press corps, his one liners and for his opposition research work.

In his 2010 book, President George W. Bush's top political strategist Karl Rove, calls him "one of the Democratic Party’s best opposition researchers" credited Lehane's making public George W. Bush's DWI history as the basis for Gore winning the popular vote in the 2000 presidential election. Lehane has done work for other leading political figures in the U.S., including New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and former California Governor Gray Davis.

The New York Times labeled Lehane the "Master of the Political Dark Arts" for his opposition research work on behalf of the failed Wesley Clark bid for the 2004 nomination when he mounted considerable efforts to derail the Howard Dean bid, portraying him as hypocritical, dishonest, and inconsistent.

In 2007, Lehane helped create the Lincoln Brigade, an organization that defeated a Republican sponsored ballot initiative designed to change how California divides up its Electoral College votes.

In April of 2009, Lehane, and Republican political consultant Steve Schmidt, started a ballot initiative political firm. Lehane has served as a strategist on various statewide ballot campaigns, including running the "no" side to a Republican Party sponsored Electoral College initiative, Labor's Proposition 17, the Chamber of Commerce sponsored effort to change the state's class action law, No On 17, the effort to pass California Proposition 19, or the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 and other statewide and local initiatives.

In 2010, Lehane helped launch “Level The Playing Field” an independent expenditure organization backed by organized Labor designed to target Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman.

Lehane is often included in discussions of "politics of personal destruction" methodologies employed by political campaign consultants, including feeding information to selected media outlets. Lehane often works as a television commentator and a frequent op ed contributor.