Holt will take up his role later this autumn, teaming up with long-time Bush-family loyalist Nicolle Devenish, who was appointed communications director in June (PRWeek, 13 June), taking the role that was assumed by Karen Hughes for Bush’s 2000 election campaign.
Holt, a veteran Republican Party spokesman, has decades of experience of campaigning for the party, having worked on Capitol Hill for Dick Armey (Texas), John Boehner (Ohio), and John Kasich (Ohio).
For the first time last month, more Americans said they would oppose Bush’s return to power than would vote for him in next year’s election, according to a poll by Newsweek.
The news of Holt’s appointment coincided with PR changes among Democrats.
One-time presidential primary front-runner Senator John Kerry (Massachusetts) has parted ways with his unofficial comms chief, Chris Lehane.
The one-time Al Gore spokesman reportedly quit over Kerry’s refusal to go on the attack against former Vermont governor Howard Dean.
Kerry aide Kelly Benander, calling Lehane’s reasons for leaving ‘both personal and understandable’, said the campaign was ‘pleased he agreed to stay involved in the [effort] in an advisory role, but sorry that he made the decision not to join in a full-time capacity’.
Coincidentally, Lehane’s business partner, Mark Fabiani, entered the fray two days after Lehane left.
The former Clinton and Gore communications strategist will serve as a consultant for the recently-declared candidacy of retired-general Wesley Clark.
Clark last week became the tenth Democrat to enter the race for the 2004 nomination.