The Romney campaign is hiring a corporate public relations specialist to help guide their response to questions about the candidate’s time in the private sector with Bain Capital, Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith reports.
Michele Davis, currently with the D.C.-based Brunswick Group, has a long and colorful résumé Democrats are sure to seize on if and when she begins to publicly defend Romney’s work in private equity.
Critics have already begun to ask why it was necessary to hire anyone – let alone one of the country’s most respected P.R. people – to push back against attacks Romney aides insist have done nothing to hurt their cause.
“I think it’s very odd and unlikely to solve their problem,” said one Beltway Republican.
Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul has not responded to a request for comment on the hire.
Davis’s time in Washington has taken her from Capitol Hill, where she worked with then Speaker Newt Gingrich to craft the 1994 “Contract With America,” to Fannie Mae, where she worked as a “vice president for regulatory policy” during a period of time when regulators eventually reported that the mortgage financing giant had been engaged in “extensive financial fraud.”
After Fannie Mae, Davis joined up with then Treasury chief Hank Paulson just in time to help push through and defend the 2008 bank bailouts.
“The secretary doesn’t do anything without talking to Michele,” an “insider” told New York magazine that fall. “She’s in every meeting Paulson goes to, and she tells him how to sell the bailout to the public.”
She was also, according to a Bloomberg report, present for a secretive meeting in July 2008, when Paulson told a number of financial executives that Fannie Mae, Davis’s old employer, and Freddie Mac were likely to be effectively taken over by the government.
Davis left Treasury after the 2008 elections to join the private Brunswick firm, where, AdAge explained, she took on yet another touchy cause: Defending BP as it tried in vein to staunch the flow of oil from its busted Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico.
It wasn’t the first time Davis had been tasked with quelling an angry public. In 2005, during the Iraq War, she was appointed deputy national security adviser for strategic communications and global outreach by the Bush White House. That role was to have its place within the administration’s working group tasked with winning Muslim “hearts and minds.”