The appointment of Robert Shrum as Edward Kennedy's new press secretary belies suspicions that the senator soured on the fourth estate during his turbulent bid for the presidency. Some of Shrum's best friends, after all, are reporters.And he was national editor of a now-defunct magazine, Politics Today, when he was asked to write speeches for Kennedy.
"The senator knows that I have a very open attitude toward the press," says Shrum, "and I think his wanting me to do this reflects the fact that he really likes the press."
It was Shrum who crafted the speech that Kennedy delivered to cheers at the Democratic National Convention. Shrum, 37, is a graduate of Harvard Law School, though he's never worked as an attorney. Instead, Shrum has built a reputation as a savvy political writer while working for magazines such as New York, New Times and others.
Among Washington reporters, Shrum is know as a gourmand, raconteur and political wit; the latter two talents have served him well writing speeches for George McGovern, John Lindsay, Edmund Muskie and, for a brief time, Jimmy Carter. In 1976 Shrum made headlines when he quit Carter's campaign staff, charging Carter with an intolerable "degree of manipulation and deception."
It was with some irony, then, that shortly after his sweet success at the convention, Shrum took up the task of writing speeches Kennedy has delivered in support of Carter. Says Shrum: "I just don't talk about that."