Meet the Press

By Marissa Warden

It’s the dream scenario: boy takes political science class, boy interns for Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), boy snags a job with a rising presidential campaign, boy finds himself working in the West Wing. Ben Finkenbinder ’07 lived the dream, becoming the press assistant press in the Obama administration.In the fall of 2005 Finkenbinder played the role of press secretary in the Rose Garden simulation for political science professor, Julie Dolan’s American Government Institutions class.

” I remember thinking that when he was press secretary,” Dolan said, “he was particularly forceful and really took to it and enjoyed the role. He was articulate, poised, well prepared and politically savvy.”

After expressing a keen interest in political communication in the classroom, Finkenbinder went on to intern for the DCCC in Washington DC over the spring 2006 semester. He worked in the communications department compiling press clippings and tracking stories on various candidates with the Google news search engine said Dolan.
Rahm Emmanuel, the current White House Chief of Staff, was the chair of the DCCC during Finkenbinder’s internship. Dolan recalled that when Finkenbinder came back to speak to one of her classes in the fall, that he explained Emmanuel’s strategy to win back a democratic majority in the 2006 mid-term elections.

When Finkenbinder graduated in the June of 2007, he got a job working for the Obama campaign as a media monitor in the campaign headquarters in Chicago. For a year, he started work at 3 a.m. tracking all media outlets. After the primary season, Finkenbinder was promoted to traveling assistant press secretary. He would travel on the plane with then Senator Obama for a week at a time. When Joe Biden was named the Vice Presidential nominee, Finkenbinder would alternate his time between Obama and Biden. When Obama took office, Finkenbinder joined his administration.

“Ben was one of the most popular members of the Obama campaign staff with the media–not an easy accomplishment considering what a crusty and contentious lot we are,” said ABC News senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper in an email. “He was always well-informed and helpful, fun and insightful, and no matter the circumstances he was in a good mood. Winning campaigns are built with people like Ben.