Mitt Romney taps former Bachmann strategist for debate prep
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) is turning to a former strategist for Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) presidential bid to help him with debate prep as the GOP presidential race heads into the key primary state of Florida.
Brett O’Donnell, a former top Bachmann strategist and debate coach, confirmed via e-mail Monday that he is informally assisting Romney’s camp.
“I actually haven’t signed on formally, but I’ve been helping for some time after Michele got out,” O’Donnell wrote. “I am still very focused on helping her move forward as well.”
A Romney spokeswoman also confirmed that O’Donnell is aiding the campaign.
“Brett’s been working with us for some time, since Michele Bachmann got out of the race,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. Bachmann ended her presidential bid earlier this month after a disappointing finish in the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa.
O’Donnell, who was seen talking with several other Romney advisers at campaign events Monday, is well-known in GOP political circles for working with candidates’ natural abilities, as the Post’s Amy Gardner noted in her September profile of the adviser.
Once a legendary debate coach at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, O’Donnell went on to coach George W. Bush in his 2004 re-election bid. In 2008, he played a key role in helping Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) prepare for his debates against then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).
The O’Donnell news comes as the four remaining GOP contenders — Romney, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) — prepare to face off at 9 p.m. Monday night for their 17th debate of the primary season.
Staff writer Philip Rucker contributed to this report.