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Bob Shrum
Born Robert M. Shrum
(1943-07-21) July 21, 1943 (age 74)
"Connellsville, Pennsylvania
Education "Georgetown University
"Harvard Law School ("JD)
Spouse(s) Marylouise Oates (m. 1988)

Robert M. Shrum (born July 21, 1943) is the Director of the "Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics and the Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics at the "University of Southern California, where he is a Professor of the Practice of Political Science in the "Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. He is a former American "political consultant, who has worked on numerous "Democratic campaigns, including as senior advisor to the "Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004 and to the "Gore-Lieberman campaign in 2000. Shrum wrote the famous speech "Ted Kennedy gave at the "1980 Democratic National Convention conceding to and supporting President "Jimmy Carter.[1] "The Atlantic Monthly described him as "the most sought-after consultant in the Democratic Party."[2] Shrum served as speechwriter to New York Mayor "John V. Lindsay from 1970 to 1971, speechwriter to Senator "George McGovern's 1972 Presidential campaign and speechwriter and press secretary to Senator "Edward M. Kennedy from 1980 to 1984 and political consultant until 2009.

Shrum's book, No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner, was published in June 2007 by "Simon and Schuster.[3]


Early life[edit]

Shrum was born in "Connellsville, Pennsylvania on July 21, 1943[4], the son of Cecilia (Welsh) and Clarence Shrum. His father was a tool-and-die maker and his maternal grandfather was a member of the "Pennsylvania State Senate.[5] His mother was from an Irish immigrant family.[6] Shrum was raised in "Los Angeles. He is a graduate of "Loyola High School of Los Angeles and "Georgetown University (where he was named the outstanding debater at the 1965 national "policy debate championship, the "National Debate Tournament). He later received a "J.D. degree from "Harvard Law School.

Political career[edit]


Shrum began his political career as a speechwriter in 1970, first for Republican New York City Mayor "John Lindsay, and then for United States Senators "Edmund Muskie and "Ted Kennedy. Shrum was also a speechwriter for 1972 Democratic Party presidential nominee "George McGovern as well as for 1976 Democratic Party presidential nominee "Jimmy Carter. Shrum worked for Governor Carter for a total of ten days, and quit the night Carter won the Pennsylvania Primary. In his resignation letter to Carter, Shrum wrote "I am not sure what you believe in, other than yourself."[7]

Shrum later worked for "Ted Kennedy and wrote "the famous speech[8] Kennedy gave at the "1980 Democratic National Convention. After Kennedy's unsuccessful bid for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 1980, Shrum returned to work in his Senate office as his press secretary until 1984, after which he became director of Kennedy's Fund for a Democratic Majority Political Action Committee until 1985.

Political consultant[edit]

Non-Presidential campaigns[edit]

In 1986, Shrum began work as a political consultant, designing campaign advertising and message strategy for Democratic candidates at the presidential, congressional, and gubernatorial levels, partnering with "Pat Caddell and David Doak. Their first client was "Jerry Baliles, who was running to succeed "Chuck Robb as governor of Virginia.

The partnership with Pat Caddell dissolved in 1986, and Doak and Shrum continued to work together through a new firm for nine years. During their partnership, they served as strategic consultants and ad-makers for the successful campaigns of "Bob Casey for Governor of Pennsylvania, "Alan Cranston for reelection to the Senate in California, and "Barbara Mikulski for Senate in Maryland. Mikuslki would go on to become the first woman who was elected to the Senate who did not have a husband or father who served in high political office.[9]

The firm continued to grow, acquiring new partners such as Peter Harris, Michelle Carrier, and "Mike Donilon, while political consultants "Joe Trippi and "Steve McMahon began their media consulting careers at the firm.[10]

Doak, Shrum, and Associates worked on the following campaigns, among others[11]:

In 1995, following the dissolution of Doak, Shrum, and Associates, Shrum partnered with "Tad Devine and "Mike Donilon. Devine, Donilon, and Shrum's firm went on to work for the following campaigns[11]:

Presidential campaigns[edit]

In 1986, Shrum began work as a political consultant, designing campaign advertising and message strategy for Democratic candidates at the presidential, congressional, and gubernatorial levels. He worked for the "Dick Gephardt campaign during the 1988 Democratic primaries, including Gephardt's surprise victory in the Iowa caucus, but after Gephardt's defeat, Shrum helped Democratic nominee "Michael Dukakis in preparing for his debates against Vice President George Bush. Dukakis lost the "general election.

In 1992, Shrum worked for Nebraska Senator "Bob Kerrey, who was defeated for the nomination by "Bill Clinton.

In 2000, Shrum helped "Al Gore beat back a primary challenge from former New Jersey Senator "Bill Bradley, and win the Democratic nomination. Gore won the popular vote in the November "presidential election versus "George W. Bush, but lost the "electoral vote.

In 2004, Shrum worked on "John Kerry's campaign, guiding him to a victory in the crucial Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, and soon after, the Democratic presidential nomination, only for Kerry to be defeated in the "general election by "George W. Bush.

Critics often point out a ""curse" associated with the presidential campaigns that Shrum has worked on, since he has yet to claim victory for any of his candidates in eight presidential elections.[12]

Foreign campaigns

Shrum has also consulted on a number of foreign campaigns, including as a strategic advisor for the "British Labour Party elections from 1989 to 2005[13], "Ehud Barak's campaign for Israeli prime minister against "Benjamin Netanyahu in 1999 and 2001, the "Irish Republican Party Fianna Fáil in the 1997 and 2002 national elections, and the successful "Bolivian presidential campaigns of "Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada in 1993 and 2002.


Shrum was a columnist for "The Week magazine's website along with his conservative counterpart, "David Frum. As a journalist, Shrum’s work appeared in "New York Magazine, "The Los Angeles Times, "The New York Times, and "The New Republic, among other publications.

He was a columnist for the on-line magazine "Slate.

Academic career[edit]

Shrum has been a Senior Fellow at "New York University's "Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, where he taught a class on domestic policy formation and analysis. He also taught an undergraduate seminar to freshmen on Presidential debates and speeches since the 1960s.

He now holds the Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics at the "University of Southern California.[14] At USC, Shrum hosts regular talks, called "Political Conversations," with individuals from every side of the political sphere. The events are open to all students at the university.


Shrum has written a political memoir entitled No Excuses: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner, published in June 2007. It has received attention in the media for its less than flattering portrayal of Shrum's former client, "John Edwards.[15]

Personal life[edit]

Shrum is married to Marylouise Oates, a writer and former columnist for "The Los Angeles Times. He has one stepson, the television writer Michael Oates Palmer.


Shrum's firm, Greenberg Carville Shrum (GCS), was featured in the 2005 documentary "Our Brand Is Crisis depicting its work campaigning for "Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada during the "2002 Bolivian presidential election.


External links[edit]

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