Nicole Wallace, the longtime Republican aide turned TV talker who was just named a co-host of ABC’s “The View,” along with actress Rosie Perez, is well known in Washington circles. For those outside the Beltway’s matrix of green rooms and news conferences, here’s an introduction:
Bona fides: If you can recall a red-hot political firestorm from the last decade and a half, chances are, Wallace was involved.
The Iraq war? She was the White House communications director for George W. Bush during the controversial invasion. Tax cuts and Supreme Court nominations? She spun them all.
And of course there was the candidacy of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who was snatched out of Wasilla and plunked on the the national stage as the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential nominee. Wallace was a senior adviser to the campaign of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) when Palin joined the ticket — and the two women famously clashed behind the scenes.
After the campaign, Palin sniped at Wallace and other McCain aides in her autobiography. Wallace got in her digs, too, most notably in the two novels she penned, the 2010 “Eighteen Acres” and the follow-up “It’s Classified,” in which a fictional vice president (widely thought to have been modeled on Palin) is portrayed as a narcissistic, incompetent lightweight.
How she got here: Known for possessing the holy grail of cable-punditry — strong opinions, polished demeanor, and TV-friendly looks — she was a TV reporter before going into politics, and has been a regular on the TV circuit for more than a decade. Wallace beat out other political types the show’s execs had brought in to guest-host-slash-audition for a spot. Word was, they were looking for a conservative-leaning candidate to fill the void left when Elizabeth Hasselbeck left the show last year — and to balance Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O’Donnell’s lib views. Republicans vying for the spot included CNN’s S.E. Cupp; MSNBC host and daughter of former GOP nominee Jon Hunstsman, Abby Huntsman; FOX 5’s Emily Miller; and McCain’s own daughter, Meghan McCain.
Personal deets: Wallace, 42, is married to Mark Wallace, a longtime GOP operative (he worked on the presidential recount in 2000 and was a Bush-appointed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations), who’s now CEO of both the Tigris Financial Group and the nonpartisan United Against Nuclear Iran. The couple shares homes in New York City and Connecticut with two year-old son, Liam, and their beloved Hungarian Vizsla, Lily.
Circle of friends: The new “View” host has a circle of powerful and loyal gal pals. A 2011 More Magazine story said Wallace and TV host Katie Couric often hang out in the city together, where they “walk around the reservoir in Central Park, eat breakfast at Sarabeth’s Kitchen, go to a movie, sit on a park bench sipping iced tea.”
CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash is another bestie, who calls Wallace “the kind of friend every woman wants in her life — she’s there to take that ‘OMG’ call when you need it.” Wallace might be TV glam by day, but Bash says that’s not her natural state. “I always think of Nicolle in her jeans and gardening shoes, with no makeup on, playing with the kids.”
Wallace met actress Sarah Paulson, who played her in the 2012 HBO movie “Game Change” about the 2008 presidential race, and the two have stayed friends.
Look for: Wallace is likely to be the even-keeled counter to her more bombastic fellow hosts. But she won’t be afraid to mix it up when it comes to politics — after all, that’s what she knows best.
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