Schmidt at the 2012 "Tribeca Film Festival
|Born||Stephen Edward Schmidt
September 8, 1970
"North Plainfield, "New Jersey, U.S.
|Alma mater||"University of Delaware, Newark|
|Political party||"Republican (1989–2018)|
Stephen Edward Schmidt (born September 8, 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 persuaded McCain to select "Sarah Palin as his 2008 running mate. He specialized in what he called "message development and strategy."
Schmidt was the senior campaign strategist and advisor to the "2008 presidential campaign of Senator "John McCain. He is a Vice Chair at the public relations firm "Edelman and a political analyst for "MSNBC.
In June 2018, Schmidt announced he was leaving the Republican Party.
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, 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. He handed out campaign materials for Democrat "Bill Bradley's 1978 Senate campaign.
Schmidt attended the "University of Delaware from 1988 through the spring of 1993, majoring in political science. During the time, he registered as a Republican. 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. He joined the "Delta Tau Delta fraternity, 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. Steve finally graduated in the class of 2013.
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. 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. Also that year, he was the Communications Director for "California State Treasurer "Matt Fong's unsuccessful campaign to unseat "U.S. Senator "Barbara Boxer. In 1999, he was the Communications Director for "Lamar Alexander's presidential run, leaving in June when the campaign reduced its senior staff.
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". In 2005 and 2006, he was the White House strategist responsible for the "U.S. Supreme Court nominations of "Samuel Alito and Chief Justice "John Roberts.
In 2006, Schmidt left the White House to become the campaign manager in the re-election campaign for "California Governor "Arnold Schwarzenegger. From there, he became a partner in Mercury Public Affairs, part of Fleishman-Hillard International Communications, in charge of Mercury's operations in "California.
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".
"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.
"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."
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." 
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."
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.’ ”
On June 19, 2018, Schmidt formally withdrew from the GOP over "Donald Trump's policy of separating families at the U.S. border with Mexico. He also cites Republican leadership for their failure to challenge the policy. Schmidt said of Trump, “We have in America—right now, at this hour—to understand that you have a lawless president, a vile president, a corrupt president, a mean, cruel president, who is seeking to remake the world order.”
He tweeted i.a. the Republican Party [..] is fully the party of Trump. It is corrupt, indecent and immoral. With the exception of a few Governors like Baker, Hogan and Kasich it is filled with feckless cowards who disgrace and dishonor the legacies of the party’s greatest leaders.” “Today the GOP has become a danger to our democracy and our values.” 
Together with David Plouffe, President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign manager, Schmidt founded the Center for Political Communication at the University of Delaware.
Schmidt serves on the board of nonprofit research organization JUST Capital, alongside Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, and others.
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 pushing for the choice of Palin, then afterward conceding she was unqualified for the job, including a limited knowledge of current affairs. Schmidt himself voiced his approval of the film, saying that "it tells the truth of the campaign" and that watching the film was tantamount to "an out-of-body experience."
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