As President Donald Trump’s war with the establishment press gets hotter, the administration has hired former Karl Rove acolyte Mike Dubke to his communications team.
Republican communications professionals in Washington, D.C., were quick to praise Dubke, though some were surprised that he took the job. “I’m confused why he’s taking this, to be honest,” said one communications professional who was familiar with Dubke’s work. “He has always shied away from spotlight.”
Another Washington communications professional described Dubke as a “behind-the-scenes operator” who was confident and capable but had no love for the mainstream media.
That kind of experience could serve the administration on daily communications strategy. Rather than personal duels with the press, Dubke’s role will likely focus on messaging strategy.
Dubke, a Buffalo native, came to Washington, D.C., as an intern in the George W. Bush White House and knows White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Though arguably a member of the Washington establishment, one colleague noted that Dubke was “too smart” to publicly disparage Trump during the election.
“I’ve known Mike Dubke for several years. He is a very smart, capable, and widely respected political operative,” Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak said in a statement to Breitbart News. “The Trump White House is lucky to have someone of his caliber join the West Wing in a grueling and crucial job such as communications director. He understands communications, strategy, and tactics, and how to use them.”
Mackowiak has openly criticized Trump in the past but was optimistic that Dubke could “advance President Trump’s priorities and effectively respond to unyielding media hysteria.”
As Breitbart News reported, some of Trump’s allies were concerned that the president was not hiring a loyalist to his team. Dubke is friends with Carl Forti, Rove’s right-hand man in the political arena and the main strategist for American Crossroads. He is also a partner with Forti for the Black Rock Group public relations firm.
Brian Jones, another one of Dubke’s partner at Black Rock Group, told the Washington Post that he was a “happy warrior” who was an effective messenger.
“Mike is not interested in being a public face,” he said. “He’s interested in rolling up his sleeves, trying to figure out how to make sure the messages that the White House wants to get out are getting out through the right channels.”
The firm is recognized by fellow professionals in Washington, D.C., for its political success, particularly during the 2014 Senate midterm campaigns. Dubke worked with politicians like Alaska’s Dan Sullivan, who toppled Democratic Senator Mark Begich.
Sullivan praised the White House hire in a statement to reporters.
“I couldn’t think of a better choice for White House communications director than Mike Dubke,” he said. “Over the past few years, he has been a trusted adviser of mine and is a seasoned communicator with more than 25 years of experience in Washington, D.C.”
Dubke’s messaging success outside the beltway drew praise from staff who worked with him on campaigns.
“If the press thinks they can get him dejected by the daily Trump pile-on, they have another think coming,” one communications staffer who worked with Dubke said.