Inside the 2012 Election
November 21, 2017
After the volatile 2016 election cycle, NYU Washington, DC invited political insiders Stephanie Cutter, Deputy Campaign Manager for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, and Kevin Madden, National Press Secretary and Senior Communications Strategist for Governor Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, to take a look back at the 2012 general election. With their firsthand insight, this dialogue explored the inner workings of an election, the pressure of a presidential campaign, what creates a successful campaign, and the differences between the 2012 general election and that of 2016.
This event was hosted by DC Dialogues, a student-led initiative aimed at broadening students’ knowledge outside the classroom on issues important to them.
Meet the Panel
Called “one of the most prominent voices in the [Democratic] party, and one of its top strategists and crisis managers” by Politico, Stephanie’s political and communications experience spans two decades in public service and the private sector.
The New York Times called her “the polished, sometimes scarily organized strategist who gets things done” who “has a long and favorable reputation with some of the most influential journalists and opinion makers in Washington.” GQ named her one of “the 50 most powerful people in Washington.”
From the halls of Congress, to the campaign trail, the West Wing and the C-suite, Stephanie has crafted communications and crisis-management strategies for the nation’s leading campaigns and corporations. As The Atlantic notes, “Cutter’s ability to drive home a message with force and clarity is prized.”
Most recently, Stephanie was Deputy Campaign Manager for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, Obama for America. In that capacity, she oversaw communications, media, policy, and research, and was a member of the senior strategy team. She also served as Chairman of the Board for the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Before joining the campaign, Stephanie was Deputy Senior Adviser to President Obama, managing message strategy and issue development. At the White House, she also crafted the confirmation strategy for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and helped create the First Lady’s successful Let’s Move! campaign. From January to May 2009, Stephanie served as Counselor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, handling the strategy behind the development and implementation of the Obama Administration’s Financial Stability Plan.
Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Stephanie was the Chief Spokesperson for the Obama-Biden Transition, and served as Michelle Obama’s Chief of Staff on the 2008 Obama for America campaign.
In 2006, Stephanie started the Cutter Media Group (CMG), a strategic communications firm that specializes in designing and implementing public affairs strategies, including message development, crisis management, national and grassroots coalition building, and other strategic communications, for corporations, political and issue-based campaigns, trade associations and non-profit organizations.
From January 2005 to March 2006, Stephanie was a senior advisor to then Minority Leader Harry Reid and Democratic Senator Edward M. Kennedy. In this dual role, she developed a message and communications strategy for Senate Democratic leadership and managed the strategic campaign that led to the Democratic takeover in the 2006 elections. She also devised and implemented a rapid response system for members of Congress, national Democrats and advocacy groups to promote message unity in the fight to regain a Democratic majority in Congress.
In the fall of 2003, the John Kerry for President Campaign brought in Stephanie to serve as a National Spokesperson and develop a communications plan to reposition Kerry for victory. After the campaign’s come-from-behind upset in Iowa, she assumed the position of Communications Director for the Kerry-Edwards 2004 presidential campaign.
Before joining the campaign, Stephanie was Communications Director to Senator Edward M. Kennedy. From 1994 to 2001, she held various positions in the Clinton Administration, including White House Deputy Communications Director and Deputy Assistant to the President.
In the fall of 2013, Stephanie was announced as the co-host of CNN’s Crossfire show. Stephanie was a Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, taught at Johns Hopkins University, and has lectured at Smith College, American University and the University of Pennsylvania.
Stephanie sits on the boards of Organizing for Action, the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. In 2013, she was appointed to the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities by President Obama.
Stephanie is represented by Leading Authorities Speakers Bureau in Washington, D.C.
A Massachusetts native, Stephanie lives in Washington, DC, and is a graduate of Smith College and Georgetown University Law Center.
Kevin Madden is Executive Vice President of Public Affairs of JDA Frontline, a public affairs firm with offices in Washington, D.C. and Charleston, S.C.
Prior to joining JDA Frontline, Mr. Madden was a Managing Director with The Glover Park Group, a leading public affairs firm based in Washington D.C.
Most notably, during the 2008 election cycle, Mr. Madden served as National Press Secretary and Senior Communications Strategist for Governor Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
Prior to joining Governor Romney’s campaign, Mr. Madden served as Press Secretary to then-House Majority Leader and now-House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). In that capacity, Mr. Madden served as a top communications strategist for the House of Representatives leadership office charged with directing legislative action on a wide range of issues including financial services, energy, national security, legal reform, transportation and telecommunications policy among others.
Before his work as a top leadership aide on Capitol Hill, Mr. Madden served as the Department of Justice’s national spokesman on issues ranging from national security to litigation before the federal courts.
During the 2004 presidential campaign, Mr. Madden was a member of the communications team directing President George W. Bush’s re-election effort, serving as the president’s campaign spokesman for regional, national and international news organizations.
Mr. Madden originally hails from Yonkers, N.Y. and now resides in Washington, D.C.