Hot off a busy Sunday weaving through the talk show circuit, Speaker Paul Ryan laid the groundwork for his forthcoming communications strategy. Originally reported by Politico, the Speaker has built a robust press staff with additional “plans to hire upward of a dozen communication hands.”
Right now, his team stands at eight: Brendan Buck, former Ryan staffer on the Ways and Means committee; Mike Ricci, AshLee Strong, former Walker press secretary; Sarah Swinehart, also of Ways and Means; Doug Andres; Caleb Smith, former digital communications director for Speaker Boehner; Molly Edwards; Vanessa Day; and Brian Bolduc.
“This speakership is going to be about communicating a conservative vision and bold agenda for the American people, and I’m building a first-rate team to help me do the job,” Speaker Ryan said in statement released this morning.
This group will cover everything from day to day media relations to speech writing to communications regarding the White House.
During his interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Ryan stressed that Republicans need to become the “proposition party” and discuss real alternatives to reform the tax code and Obamacare, tackle the underlying issues of poverty, and spur further economic growth.
Ryan’s announcement for his communications team may reflect a departure from business as usual, combining action with rhetoric in an area where Republicans have struggled to make much progress in the past. His communications shop, large by any standard on the Hill, shows that he understands the importance of skillfully communicating not only Republican opposition, but also proactively steering and selling an alternative agenda.
The 24/7 news cycle dominated by a bias mainstream media makes it more important than ever for Republican leadership to master effective communication. This holds true for GOP taking heads across the board, as we’re now seeing the blowback from last week’s CNBC debate.
No one believes that the new Speakership will solve all problems or that Ryan will have any sort of easier time leading the House, but making external communications a priority is one way to begin regaining the trust of the American people and re-shaping the narrative for Congressional Republicans, particularly within the House, that could become increasingly consequential for the party in 2016.