Card's White House years enrich F-H's counsel

Few people outside Washington may know it, but Andy Card, who joined Fleishman-Hillard as a senior counselor late last year, was the man who whispered into President Bush's ear at a Florida elementary school on Sept. 11 that the World Trade Center had just been hit by an airplane.

Few people outside Washington may know it, but Andy Card, who joined Fleishman-Hillard as a senior counselor late last year, was the man who whispered into President Bush's ear at a Florida elementary school on Sept. 11 that the World Trade Center had just been hit by an airplane.

In that instant, the then-White House chief of staff became part of an image that will run in the media forever, a piece of history showing the exact instant when the Pres-ident learned of an event whose aftermath led to war in Afghan-istan and Iraq and a new, controversial era in US foreign policy.

Serving as White House chief of staff is not usually such a public matter. Indeed, the job is sort of a quintessential "inside" position in any presidential administration, lacking the public notice that the White House press secretary gets. Nevertheless, it lies at the heart of the presidency. To no small degree, it includes all aspects of White House communications, with government agencies, Congress, the media, and the world at large.

"My job was to pay attention to all of the care and feeding of the President - the scheduling, the logistics - and to coordinate the policy formulation, to make sure the right people get in to advise the President at the right time, and to make sure that when he made the decisions, the decisions were mature," Card says. "And then I had to make sure there was a communications strategy around the decisions after they were made."

Communications might seem like a sort of secondary consideration for a President - the most important thing is proper policy formation, most people would think. But, in fact, the strategy and tactics behind communications of a policy are often key to successful implementation of it, whether it be getting a budget approved, certain legislation passed, winning support, or using the proverbial "bully pulpit" to get public support for issues the President is concerned about, like steroids in sports or stem-cell research.

"If the President makes a decision and nobody knows about it, chances are he didn't make a decision," Card explains. "So you've got to communicate the decision and [do so] on a number of different levels. First, it has to be communicated to the executive branch itself, then it has to be communicated to every constituency that would care, favorably or unfavorably. So communications is critically important, and that means you must have your decisions made in time to be able to develop a communications strategy."

After the second-longest run ever as chief of staff, Card left in April 2006 and says his work days are far less hectic now than they were at the White House, where he typically arrived during the week at around 5:30am and left as late as 10:30pm. For his work with Fleishman, Card says he advises clients on a variety of public policy issues, such as transportation, given his past experience as US transportation secretary.

Tucker Eskew, founding partner of public affairs firm Via Novo and a former director of the White House office of global communications, worked closely with Card when he was chief of staff as well as deputy chief of staff for George H.W. Bush. Eskew says that in his handling of an "absolutely crushing job, where he always had to be thinking at least three or four steps ahead," Card showed himself to be a master of relationships, public policy, and strategic thinking.

Eskew, a South Carolina native, says he and Card, a University of South Carolina graduate, often traded stories about their Pal-metto State pasts.

"He was the sort of person who could be intensely involved in every aspect of the President's schedule," he adds. "Yet if he had a moment and wasn't consumed by those details, Andy could be a great raconteur and storyteller."

Andrew Card:
2007-present
Senior counselor,
Fleishman-Hillard

2001-2006
Chief of staff, White House

2000

Chief of staff, presidential adm. of Gov. George Bush

1999-2000

VP of govt. relations, GM

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