President-elect Joe Biden will have an all-women communications team in his White House, appointing longtime Democratic spokeswoman Jen Psaki as White House spokeswoman and campaign spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield as communications director.
Biden also plans to appoint Neera Tanden, the president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, as director of the Office of Management and Budget, so someone familiar with the transition process and granted anonymity to freely move on internal issues to talk about reflections.
All three are veterans of the Obama administration. Bedingfield was director of communications at Biden when he was vice president. Psaki was the White House communications director and State Department spokesman. and Tanden was senior advisor to Minister of Health and Welfare Kathleen Sebelius and helped draft the Affordable Care Act.
“Communicating directly and truthfully with the American people is one of the most important roles of a president, and that team has an enormous responsibility to connect the American people with the White House,” Biden said in a statement.
“These qualified, experienced communicators bring different perspectives to their work and work together to rebuild this country better,” he added.
Karine Jean Pierre, Chief of Staff to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, will serve as deputy press secretary for the President-elect. She is another Obama administration alum who served as regional political director for the White House Political Affairs Bureau.
Pili Tobar, communications director for coalitions in Biden’s campaign, will be his deputy communications director at the White House. Most recently, she was the assistant director of America’s Voice, an advocacy group for immigration reforms, and press secretary for the Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.
Biden also plans to appoint Neera Tanden as director of the Office of Management and Budget, as pictured in 2014. Tanden is the President and CEO of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. (Mel Evans / The Associated Press)
The transition also heralded the appointment of three senior Biden campaign advisors to top communications roles. Ashley Etienne, a former communications director for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will serve as Harris’ communications director. Symone Sanders, another senior advisor to the Biden campaign, will be Harris’ senior advisor and keynote speaker.
Elizabeth Alexander, who served as former vice president’s press officer and communications director as a US Senator from Delaware, will serve as Jill Biden’s communications director.
Biden suffers from fractured feet
Meanwhile, Biden suffered a hair break in his foot while playing with one of his dogs and will probably have to wear protective boots for several weeks, his personal doctor said on Sunday.
The incident occurred on Saturday, Biden’s office said in a statement. The 78-year-old Democrat visited an orthopedic surgeon on Sunday for x-rays and a CT scan.
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The President-elect’s communication attitudes reflect Biden’s stated desire to build a diverse White House team – four of the top seven communication roles are held by women in color, and it is the first time that the entire high-level White House communications team has been entirely female.
But they also reflect the expected return to more traditional press work in the White House after President Donald Trump turned the way his administration communicated with the press on its head.
After his campaign went virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic, Biden himself was criticized for being inaccessible to reporters. However, towards the end of the campaign, he was answering questions from the press more frequently, and his transition team has held weekly briefings since he was elected president.