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Obama Offered Interim Post, And Dunn Couldn't Say No

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New White House Communications Chief Anita Dunn reversed course and accepted an administration position: When Obama calls you can't say no. Video by Alexandra Garcia and Matthew Hashiguchi/The Washington PostEdited by Matthew Hashiguchi/The Washington Post
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 19, 2009

Anita Dunn promised her 13-year-old son that after the general election was over, she would come home to Washington. No fancy White House job for this senior adviser, she assured him, even if her guy won. But that was long before President Obama personally reached out to her in April to temporarily replace communications director Ellen Moran. "It is very difficult, when the president of the United States asks you directly, to say no," Dunn explains.

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Still, during an interview with The Post this week, the veteran political and media consultant and adviser to both Obamas made it clear she was the interim communications director at the White House. That may be so, but she's never been far from the inner circle, attending regular strategy sessions at senior adviser David Axelrod's apartment since the election.

A big part of Dunn's portfolio moving forward will be selling the president's health-care reform plan to the various stakeholders. "As we like to say, if it was easy, somebody else would have done it," Dunn says.

Dunn started out in Democratic politics in the late '70s, and she is well liked by the media and politicians for her no-nonsense, self-effacing style. She spent large chunks of her career with former senator and presidential candidate Bill Bradley, and most recently was at the legendary media firm Squier Knapp Dunn. She was also an adviser to former Senate Democratic leader Thomas A. Daschle, which is how she met many of the people who would eventually sign on with Obama after Daschle lost his Senate seat.

Dunn spent the fall and early winter hanging around with her son -- and still tells him she'll be home soon.



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