(CNN)The White House’s communications staff got a shakeup Tuesday with the announcement that Kayleigh McEnany, the Trump 2020 campaign’s press secretary and high-profile Republican communicator, is joining the team as the Trump administration’s fourth White House press secretary.
McEnany comes to the role with a bevy of Republican communications and television experience, beginning with an internship during the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign, where she worked as an intern at a Tampa field office as a high school student. From there, she held internships at a gubernatorial campaign and with a Florida congressman.
A 2010 Georgetown University graduate, McEnany earned a law degree from Harvard University, and began a media career in production at Fox News.
Like others in the administration, including President Donald Trump, she has made past controversial comments, such as stoking the “birther” conspiracy theory regarding then-President Barack Obama’s citizenship in 2012 with two tweets appearing to make light of the racist attack.
“How I Met Your Brother — Never mind, forgot he’s still in that hut in Kenya. #ObamaTVShows,” she posted.
And in another: “Birth certificates and college transcripts #ThingsThatEnrageDemocrats”
McEnany rose to prominence — and also captured then-candidate Trump’s attention — during the 2016 presidential election, when she was frequently on air as a paid CNN political commentator.
The role of a pundit, she said, gave her a voice that she hadn’t previously found working in politics.
“There’s a lot of political calculus that goes into decision making, every campaign and primary is trying to position themselves one place or another ideologically. But I’ve always been someone who, I just like to speak my mind and I like to say what I believe and media gives you that freedom to — you don’t feel like you have to say what someone wants to hear, you can say what you think and what you believe. And one of the reasons I think Donald Trump was so successful is taking that attribute of what I find in media to politics,” she told Georgetown University’s “Fly on the Wall” podcast in 2018.
After the election, McEnany wrote a book about Trump voters and joined the Republican National Committee as a spokeswoman, shifting to the Trump reelection campaign as national press secretary in February 2019. She’s been a frequent pro-Trump presence on cable and local news in the role, an unabashed defender of the President and his policies.
“I was that heavily outnumbered blonde girl fighting for Donald Trump,” McEnany said of her time at CNN, saying that she jumped to the RNC position because she “wanted to be in the fight” and have a more active role in political strategy and planning, while still getting to debate on television.
The new White House position is also a homecoming of sorts. McEnany interned in the Bush administration’s press shop as a Georgetown University sophomore, where she was responsible for scouring the news in southeastern US newspapers to help write a daily briefing for the chief of staff, she told the university’s podcast.