New White House comms director as re-election decision nears

Feb 9, 2023, 6:26 PM | Updated: Feb 10, 2023, 9:30 am
Marine One, with President Joe Biden in the window, approaches for landing on the South Lawn of the...

Marine One, with President Joe Biden in the window, approaches for landing on the South Lawn of the White House, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, in Washington. Biden is returning from Florida. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is getting a new communications director at the White House as he inches closer to an expected re-election campaign.

The administration tapped a veteran of the Obama-Biden years to lead the team, Ben LaBolt. He will replace Kate Bedingfield, who had said in July that she was leaving the White House but stuck around and will now go by the end of the month.

The communications director leads the White House’s strategy on messaging policies and goals and generally works behind the scenes. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre remains in her public-facing position.

Bedingfield is expected to be key in Biden’s likely re-election campaign as a consultant, according to a person familiar with the president’s plans who was not authorized to speak publicly about them and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Biden hasn’t said officially that he’s running for re-election, but has said it’s his intention to do so.

Bedingfield’s departure is the latest for the administration, which saw little turnover during Biden’s first two years. Jen Psaki left as White House press secretary in May. Ron Klain announced his departure as chief of staff just a few weeks ago. Since then, Brian Deese, a top Biden aide on the economy, said he would leave, and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is also expected to do so.

Bedingfield was Biden’s communications director when he was vice president and served as his deputy campaign manager during his 2020 presidential run.

“Since my time as Vice President, Kate has been a loyal and trusted adviser, through thick and thin,” Biden said in a statement. “The country is better off as a result of her hard work and I’m so grateful to her — and to her husband and two young children — for giving so much. Ben has big shoes to fill.”

LaBolt worked on communications for Ketanji Brown Jackson, who was Biden’s pick for the Supreme Court, and the first Black woman to have the job. LaBolt also worked in communications for Democrats in both the House and Senate.

LaBolt will be the first openly gay White House communications director, the White House said.


Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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New White House comms director as re-election decision nears