Posted on | October 6, 2011 | 16 Comments
Cmdr. J.D. Gordon (USN, Retired), former Pentagon spokesman, is now
communications director for Herman Cain’s presidential campaign.
Saturday, I was the first to report that former Pentagon spokesman J.D. Gordon was taking over as de facto press secretary in the wake of Ellen Carmichael’s resignation. Today, I had my first phone interview with Commander Gordon, USN (Retired) — a career Navy man, like my co-blogger Smitty — and was quite impressed.
Commander Gordon understands my “never burn a source” rule, so most of our conversation occurred somewhere in the range of “background,” “off-the-record,” and “don’t ever breathe a word of this to anyone.”
First things first: In reporting the story Saturday, I got some things wrong and must now clarify any misperceptions accidentally created.
Gordon joined the Cain campaign on Sept. 1 and his title is “Vice President, Communications; Senior Adviser, Foreign Policy & Security.” This reflects Gordon’s dual areas of expertise, as a career public affairs officer with extensive knowledge of national security. (You can read his biography here.)
Gordon’s first task was to help inform Cain on foreign policy and military issues — which many of Cain’s critics had seen as a weakness — but Gordon’s portfolio also included supervisory authority over communications, i.e., he became Ellen Carmichael’s boss.
Anyone with sufficient math skills to add 2+2 could see that the sum of this equation would be “trouble,” which is nobody’s fault: Not Ellen’s fault, not J.D.’s fault, not Herman’s fault.
“Growing pains,” just like Carmichael had told me when a couple of Cain’s Iowa staffers left the campaign in July.
For more than a year, Carmichael had reported directly to Herman Cain, and the insertion of Gordon in the chain of command changed that. As I say, this is simple mathematics, rather than any sort of “sources say” revelation. What I heard from Gordon confirmed what I’ve been told by Carmichael and, while both spoke to me in that nebulous shadow realm of background/off-the-record, it’s fair to say — and again, nothing “exclusive” here — that conflicts arose.
“Differences of opinion,” you might say.
Perhaps you can imagine what happens when a veteran naval officer and a 2009 LSU graduate suddenly become colleagues in the middle of a presidential campaign with a long-shot candidate who is suddenly becoming a contender.
Hell, I could pitch that story in Hollywood as a situation comedy.
A laugh riot. Madcap hijinks ensue. Twenty-six episodes for the first season with a three-year option. (Attention Charlie Sheen: Call me, OK?)
The Odd (Campaign) Couple has a spinoff called Amicable Parting of the Ways, but is anyone surprised? It’s nobody’s fault, nobody’s bitter, and everybody speaks well of each other, and a publisher would have to offer me a hefty book advance in order to get me to do the “insider tell-all” version of that story. But I digress . . .
This unfortunately necessary drama ended Friday. Ellen Carmichael’s now working on a state election campaign in her native Louisiana and when that’s over, she’s coming back to D.C., where she has several stellar offers as an editorial commentator and/or public-relations specialist. Her future’s so bright, she’s gotta wear special heavy-duty infra-red shades.
It’s a win-win, happy endings for everyone including J.D. Gordon and the surging Herman Cain campaign. Gordon’s professionalism has earned him the respect of influential Washington journalists, among them top network TV correspondents and producers, and Gordon has already been working hard to build relationships with the reporters covering the 2012 GOP campaign.
Now, the news: The candidate once known as “Herman Who?” has suddenly become the hottest “get” in media, and will appear Sunday on both CBS Face the Nation and Candy Crowley’s CNN show State of the Union. The Cain campaign is also getting ready to announce new staff hires, and has picked up several recent endorsements. Furthermore:
- Herman Cain will appear noon Friday a the Costco in Pentagon City to sign copies of his new book, This Is Herman Cain!
- Herman Cain will speak at 4 p.m. at the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in D.C.
In addition, I’m not sure if this was “background” or not, but Gordon wished me a happy birthday (I’m 52 today), offered to buy me a beer if I make it to D.C. tomorrow, and said — this is a direct quote — “Your readers really ought to hit your freaking tip jar.”
Trust me. That’s in my notes.
Update (Smitty): linked by our CPAC friend Nice Deb.
- Oct 5: Ezra Klein: Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan Shows ‘Lack of Policy Seriousness’
- Oct. 4: New Polls Confirm Presidential Surge of Best-Selling Author Herman Cain
- Oct. 4: From Doug Hoffman to Herman Cain: Continuing the Tea Party Momentum
- Oct. 1: Herman Cain Rhymes With Hurricane: Fund-Raising Surges in Third Quarter