Politicians’ speechwriters, the good ones that is, become the candidate’s voice. It’s not just words on a page or a teleprompter, it’s another person’s tone, history and, of course, sense of humor. If you’re the candidate, your goal is to wow your crowd while making it seem as if you wrote it yourself, maybe on the way to the event.
Mitt Romney’s new director of speechwriting is one of the best out there at doing just that, and she has a history with candidates and politicians that are so varied and with such different styles and personalities the only thing they seem to have in common is party.
Lindsay Hayes, who has been speechwriting for the presumptive GOP nominee since November, has been promoted to director of speechwriting, ABC News can confirm. The New York Times was the first to report the promotion.
She will be relocating to Boston from the Washington, D.C., area next month and will be based out of headquarters there.
Romney campaign spokesman Rick Gorka told ABC News in a statement, “We’re very happy to have her on board and she will be a tremendous asset to our campaign team.”
The 35-year-old has been working closely with chief strategist Stuart Stevens and Romney for months on the governor’s speeches and has been assisting on major addresses, including Romney’s CPAC address and will continue in this new role.
She was a speechwriter for Sarah Palin during the 2008 vice presidential campaign, traveling with the campaign and writing for her from the convention through the end of the campaign. Along with Matthew Scully, she crafted the now famous, but then secret address Palin fought to give introducing John McCain before he conceded to Barack Obama. Palin did not end up giving the address.
Hayes has also written for and was close to the late Sen. Ted Stevens, and she was the senior writer for the Republican National Convention in 2008. She got her start in the White House office of speechwriting in 2002 and is currently completing her PhD in rhetoric and political culture at the University of Maryland.
From Ted Stevens’ tough talk to Sarah Palin’s more folksy style and now Mitt Romney’s more traditional approach, allies say she gets the principal’s voice and the message they want to hit by grasping the politicians’ voice quickly.
Andy Davis, who worked with Hayes on the 2008 campaign and at SarahPAC (he’s still employed there), describes her style as not “writing for” the principal, but “writing with them” in a “very collaborative process.”
“So much of what she does is based on not writing the words, but it’s getting a feel for somebody and what they want to say and how they want to get there,” Davis said. “Principals, candidates, folks that matter in a campaign, they really like working with her because she takes the time to find their voice. She’s not writing the same speech and interchanging different words.”
Kim Daniels worked with Hayes for several speeches with Palin after the 2008 campaign, including the Tea Party convention keynote speech in Nashville in January 2010 and the Southern Republican Leadership conference speech in New Orleans in May 2010. Daniels describes Hayes as “calm under pressure” and always “focuses on what the principal wants.”
“Lindsay listens well to those around her. A speechwriter gets a lot of input and Lindsay assimilates all that while keeping the process running smoothly. On top of that she’s an excellent writer — she’s just a true pro all around.”
Daniels was the domestic policy director at SarahPAC, while Hayes was Palin’s speechwriter.
Hayes has kept a low profile throughout her career, preferring to stay completely behind the scenes eschewing press, interview requests, even social media. All in an effort, it would seem, to be that principal’s voice.
Her competition on the other side, Jon Favreau, President Barack Obama’s director of speechwriting, also has that keen skill of becoming the principal’s voice. Despite Obama’s great oratorial gifts, it’s also Favreau’s gift at perfectly knowing the president’s voice that gets him so much praise. (He’s not exactly the competition, the campaign has its own speechwriting shop in Chicago as well).
It’s also a lesson that, despite Hayes’ low profile, if Romney does end up at the White House, she may become the Washington celebrity Favreau has become.
ABC News’ Emily Friedman and Devin Dwyer contributed to this report.