Brett O’Donnell

Fall 2012

Brett O’Donnell, is the President of O’Donnell and Associates and was most recently the Chief Strategist to the Bachmann for President Campaign.  O’Donnell also assisted in preparing Governor Mitt Romney for Presidential Primary debates in Florida, a critical win in Romney’s bid to become the Republican nominee.  He was the Director of Messaging for the McCain Presidential Campaign from January of 2007-November of 2008 where his duties included message strategy and development, supervision of the debate preparation process for both the primary and general election debates, speech writing, public speaking and media training and ensuring that the campaign’s message remained consistent across all its components from advertising and direct mail to its website. O'Donnell and Associates, Ltd. is a political and corporate strategic communications consulting firm.  During The 2008 presidential campaign O’Donnell was twice named to Time Magazine’s “Five Most Important People Not Running for President” list and has been described as the “best political debate coach” in the country. 

In 2004 O’Donnell was retained by the Bush-Cheney campaign to assist the President in debate preparation for 2004 presidential debates.  O’Donnell’s duties included evaluation of Senator Kerry, President Bush and Senator Edward’s debating abilities through extensive viewing of prior debates, preparing debate strategies for the President and the Vice-President, and consulting on the rules for the debate formats.  Karl Rove said that O’Donnell’s “hard work and preparation for the debates sent the President into the final stretch of the campaign with a wind at his back.”  In 2005 O’Donnell was in charge of debate preparation for the Virginians for Jerry Kilgore campaign and has since consulted for a number of gubernatorial and senate campaigns.  O’Donnell has also written for Sean Hannity and worked in the speech preparation and practice department at the 2004 and 2008 Republican National Conventions.                                                                                                                                                  

Presently O’Donnell is consulting for Rick Warren, author of the Purpose Driven Life, for message/marketing strategy, communications strategy, and rapid response and media communications.  O’Donnell has appeared as a guest on the Comedy Central’s Colbert Report, and he has guest lectured at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics and the LBJ School of Government at the University of Texas. 

Prior to joining the McCain Presidential Campaign O'Donnell was the Director of Debate at Liberty University for eighteen years where he focused on providing students with skills in oral and written argument, critical thinking, and persuasion through the activity of competitive intercollegiate debate. His teams won eighteen national rankings championships in intercollegiate debate.  O’Donnell was named the Keele debate coach of the year by the National Debate Tournament in 1997.  He taught at the University of Michigan’s summer debate institute for seven years and has authored numerous articles and scholarly papers on intercollegiate debate, political communication, argumentation theory, and rhetoric and public address.

Disclaimer: This information is accurate for the time period that this person was affiliated with the Institute of Politics.