We’ve talked about a lot of different aspects of campaign world—data and digital, legal, communications, direct mail, debates, conventions, etc. But there’s been one glaring omission. After all, what are campaigns for if not to win for the purpose of implementing your preferred policy goals? So when we talk about campaigns, why do we so rarely talk about policy anymore?
I’ve worked with some great policy directors—I sat next to now-Congressman Chip Roy who was the policy director for John Cornyn’s first Senate campaign in 2002. But when I imagine the Hollywood archetype for the “campaign policy director,” it is and always will be Lanhee Chen.
Lanhee and I overlapped at Harvard Law School and we both worked on Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. But that may imply that we were ever in the same league. Lanhee already had his PhD in political science by the time I met him, and even in his mid-20s, it was clear he was a deeply thoughtful and careful thinker far beyond his years.
He was in the policy shop for the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign, Domestic Policy Director for Romney’s 2008 bid, policy director and senior strategist for 2012, and an outside policy advisor to Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign. And in 2014 and 2018, he helped the National Republican Senatorial Committee as well.