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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 (1989–2018)

Stephen Edward Schmidt[1] (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."[2]

Schmidt was the senior campaign strategist and advisor to the "2008 presidential campaign of Senator "John McCain.[3] He is a Vice Chair at the public relations firm "Edelman[4] and a political analyst for "MSNBC.

In June 2018, Schmidt announced he was leaving the Republican Party.[5]


Early life and education[edit]

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,[6] 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.[7] He handed out campaign materials for Democrat "Bill Bradley's 1978 Senate campaign.[8]

Schmidt attended the "University of Delaware from 1988 through the spring of 1993, majoring in political science.[9] 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.[6] He joined the "Delta Tau Delta fraternity,[7] 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.[9] Steve finally graduated in the class of 2013.[10]


Steve Schmidt and his wife Angela[11] have two children.[12]


Early campaigns[edit]

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.[13] 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.[14] Also that year, he was the Communications Director for "California State Treasurer "Matt Fong's unsuccessful campaign to unseat "U.S. Senator "Barbara Boxer.[15] In 1999, he was the Communications Director for "Lamar Alexander's presidential run, leaving in June when the campaign reduced its senior staff.[16]

Washington, D.C.[edit]

By late 2000, Schmidt was communications director of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.[17][18]

In 2001, he was the spokesman of the "National Republican Congressional Committee,[19] becoming the Communications Director by 2002.

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".[14] In 2005 and 2006, he was the White House strategist responsible for the "U.S. Supreme Court nominations of "Samuel Alito[20] and Chief Justice "John Roberts.[14]


In 2006, Schmidt left the White House to become the campaign manager in the re-election campaign for "California Governor "Arnold Schwarzenegger.[20] From there, he became a partner in Mercury Public Affairs, part of Fleishman-Hillard International Communications, in charge of Mercury's operations in "California.[21]

2008 McCain presidential campaign[edit]

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".[22][23]

Press commentary[edit]

"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.[24]

"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."[25]

Stance on gay rights[edit]

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." [26]

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."[26]

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.’ ”[27]

Departure from the Republican Party[edit]

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.”[28]
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.” [29]

Other professional activities[edit]

University of Delaware Center for Political Communication[edit]

Together with David Plouffe, President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign manager, Schmidt founded the Center for Political Communication at the University of Delaware.[30]

JUST Capital[edit]

Schmidt serves on the board of nonprofit research organization JUST Capital, alongside Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, and others.[31]

Game Change[edit]

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.[32] Schmidt himself voiced his approval of the film, saying that "it tells the truth of the campaign"[33] and that watching the film was tantamount to "an out-of-body experience."[34]


  1. ^ Free Republic Forum, January 11, 2010
  2. ^ Cillizza, Chris (December 20, 2006). "McCain Hires Another Bush Insider". The Fix (blog). The Washington Post. Archived from the original on May 14, 2008. Retrieved January 26, 2013. 
  3. ^ Halloran, Liz (August 1, 2008). "Republicans Press Celebrity Attack on Obama". US News and World Report. Washington DC. Retrieved August 8, 2008. 
  4. ^ https://www.edelman.com/people/steve-schmidt/
  5. ^ Hayley Miller (June 20, 2018). "GOP Strategist Quits 'Corrupt' Party Of 'Feckless Cowards,' Will Vote For Democrats". Huffington Post. Retrieved June 20, 2018. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ a b "University of Delaware Delt plays pivotal role on McCain campaign staff". Home News Tribune and the Courier News. September 7, 2008. Archived from the original on April 24, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Marinucci, Carla (February 12, 2006). "Governor's team adds former Rove protege:Political 'artillery shell' joins re-election effort". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  9. ^ 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. Archived from the original on September 23, 2008. Retrieved November 15, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Udaily". University of Delaware. Retrieved 18 November 2017. 
  11. ^ The Immoral Minority Blog, May 24, 2012
  12. ^ Republican National Convention Blog: Steve Schmidt Biography
  13. ^ Justice Will T. Scott Archived March 3, 2012, at the "Wayback Machine., courts.ky.gov. Retrieved November 15, 2015.
  14. ^ a b c Morain, Dan; Drogin, Bob (October 6, 2008). "Steve Schmidt: The driving force behind John McCain". Los Angeles Times. 
  15. ^ Cillizza, Chris (September 7, 2008). "Sunday Reading: Steve Schmidt Examined". The Washington Post. 
  16. ^ Firestone, David (June 4, 1999). "Alexander Cuts Staff And Travel". The New York Times. Retrieved November 15, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Steve Schmidt biography". July 4, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2008. 
  18. ^ Lilienthal, Steve (November 27, 2000). "Republican congressional exec quits for private work". PR Week USA. 
  19. ^ Shenon, Philip (March 29, 2001). "While Senate Debates, It's Fund-Raising as Usual". The New York Times. 
  20. ^ a b "Marinucci, Carla (February 12, 2006). "Governor's team adds former Rove protege". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  21. ^ Martin, Jonathan; Allen, Mike (July 3, 2008). "A dose of discipline for McCain's campaign". The Politico. 
  22. ^ "Dan Balz and Michael D. Shear (July 2, 2008). "McCain Puts New Strategist Atop Campaign". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 2, 2008. 
  23. ^ Martin, Jonathan (July 2, 2008). "Schmidt takes control of day-to-day operation". "Politico.com. Retrieved September 7, 2008. 
  24. ^ Rutenberg, Jim; Nagourney, Adam (September 6, 2008). "An Adviser Molds a Tighter, More Aggressive McCain Campaign". The New York Times. Retrieved September 17, 2008. 
  25. ^ Scherer, Michael (September 15, 2008). "McCain's Outraged and Outrageous Campaign". Time. New York. Retrieved September 16, 2008. 
  26. ^ a b Eleveld, Kerry (September 4, 2008). "McCain's Top Strategist Addresses Log Cabin Republicans". "advocate.com. Retrieved September 29, 2008. 
  27. ^ Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (February 25, 2013). "Republicans Sign Brief in Support of Gay Marriage". The New York Times. Retrieved February 26, 2012. 
  28. ^ Hines, Nico (20 June 2018). "Steve Schmidt: Why I Quit the 'Vile' Republican Party". The Daily Beast. 
  29. ^ Huff Post 20 June 2018: GOP Strategist Quits 'Corrupt' Party Of 'Feckless Cowards,' Will Vote For Democrats
  30. ^ Beard, Paul (October 19, 2009). "Former McCain, Obama Aides Schmidt and Plouffe Join at University of Delaware". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on 2011-01-20. 
  31. ^ "Board — JUST Capital". JUST Capital. Retrieved 2017-11-22. 
  32. ^ Dunn, Geoffrey (March 7, 2012), "Game Change: Sarah Palin and the Confessions of Steve Schmidt", "Huffington Post, retrieved March 9, 2012 
  33. ^ Rainey, James (February 18, 2012). "Choosing sides on Sarah Palin". Los Angeles Times. 
  34. ^ David Frum, "HBO's 'Game Change' Charts Sarah Palin's Revenge", thedailybeast.com. Retrieved November 15, 2015.

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