Dan Pfeiffer

By Cottle, Michelle | Newsweek, February 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

Dan Pfeiffer


Cottle, Michelle, Newsweek


Byline: Michelle Cottle

A messaging guru with a competitive streak.

In a town of shameless self-promoters, President Obama's newest senior adviser might strike some as bizarrely low profile. Dan Pfeiffer, until recently the White House communications director, doesn't often pop up on the Sunday shows, or get profiled by the political media, or schmooze it up with Beltway establishment types. Colleagues and reporters alike describe the 37-year-old Delaware native as a highly disciplined, intensely focused workaholic with a quick wit, sharp tongue, and a horror of being the center of attention. "He's very low key and doesn't try to call attention to himself," praises veteran Obama counselor David Axelrod.

West Wingers note that Pfeiffer's new title is a nebulous one that means different things depending on who's in the job. They struggle to explain it using vaguely empty phrases like "big picture," "30,000 foot," "cross-platform" thinking aimed at "moving the ball forward." For Pfeiffer, say insiders, this will mean top-level strategizing about how to communicate Obama's goals to the public while serving as "the connective tissue" between all the players involved. "On something like fiscal issues," Axelrod (kind of) clarifies, "Dan will be the linchpin between the president and policy teams and the communications team and the various outside players in directing the message of that debate from our end."

To this role, Pfeiffer (whose office gently declined an interview) will bring a fiercely competitive streak--a trait on display on the basketball court, which he hits multiple times a week--and a work ethic that is legendary even by the extreme standards of the Obama White House. "You'd wake up at six in the morning and check to see if there was an email that Dan had sent at five about a story that had moved at four that he had seen before anyone else," recalls a former administration official. …

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