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Ben Rhodes (White House staffer)

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President  Barack Obama
Political party  Democratic Party
Role  Speechwriter

Name  Ben Rhodes
Siblings  David Rhodes

Alma mater  Collegiate School Rice University New York University
Education  New York University, Rice University
Similar People  Barack Obama, David Rhodes, Denis McDonough, Susan Rice, Valerie Jarrett

Occupation  Political speechwriter

Ben rhodes president obama s deputy national security advisor speechwriter for pres obama

Benjamin J. "Ben" Rhodes (born 14 November 1977) is a former White House staff member who served as the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications for U.S. President Barack Obama and as an Advisor on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran.


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During the Obama administration, Rhodes' official title was "Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting." He served as Obama's foreign policy speechwriter from 2007 until the end of Obama's presidency.

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Early life and education

Rhodes was born in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. He is the son of an Episcopalian father from Texas and a Jewish mother from New York.He attended the Collegiate School, graduating in 1996. Rhodes then attended Rice University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 2000 with majors in English and political science. He then moved back to New York, attending New York University and graduating in 2002 with an MFA in creative writing. His brother, David Rhodes, is President of CBS News.

Early political career

In the summer of 1997, Rhodes volunteered with the Rudy Giuliani mayoral campaign. In the summer of 2001, he worked on the New York City Council campaign of Diana Reyna.

Foreign policy speechwriter and adviser

In 2002, James Gibney, editor of Foreign Policy, introduced Rhodes to Lee Hamilton, former member of the House of Representatives and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, who was looking for a speechwriter. Rhodes then spent five years as an assistant to Hamilton, helping to draft the Iraq Study Group Report and the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

In 2007, Rhodes began working as a speechwriter for the 2008 Obama presidential campaign.

Rhodes wrote Obama's 2009 Cairo speech "A New Beginning". Rhodes was the adviser who counseled Obama to withdraw support from Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, becoming a key adviser during the 2011 Arab Spring.

Rhodes was instrumental in the conversations that led to Obama reestablishing the United States' diplomatic relations with Cuba, which had been cut off since 1961. The New York Times reported that Rhodes spent "more than a year sneaking off to secret negotiations in Canada and finally at the Vatican" in advance of the official announcement in December 2014.

In March 2013, Rhodes declined to comment on his role in Obama administration policy decisions, saying, "My main job, which has always been my job, is to be the person who represents the president’s view on these issues." In a May 2016 New York Times profile about him, Rhodes' colleagues in the White House said he spent two to three hours a day with Obama, and Rhodes himself said, "I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends.”

Rhodes has been described as "at least one of the architects" of the Obama administration's supposed policy of inaction in Syria during that country's civil war.


In a controversial profile in the New York Times Magazine, Rhodes was quoted "deriding the D.C. press corps and boasting of how he created an 'echo chamber' to market the administration's foreign policy," including the international nuclear agreement with Iran. The response to the piece was critical, with Fred Kaplan writing that Rhodes came across as "insular and self-centered."

In a post on Medium following the article's publication, Rhodes argued "that the administration had made no attempt to mislead" but offered "an apology of sorts to any reporters he might have offended"; Rhodes denied "his efforts to build support for the deal were disingenuous."

In August 2017, House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes wrote to Admiral Michael S. Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency, asking for "the total number of unmasking requests made by" Rhodes during "the run-up to the 2016 presidential election." "Unmasking" is the process for identifying the names of Americans in intelligence documents. As part of his White House position, Rhodes "would have had legal authority to unmask U.S. citizens; however, Nunes is looking into whether those requests were abused or politically motivated."

Awards and honors

In 2011, Rhodes was on Time magazine's "40 Under 40" list of powerful and prominent young professionals.

Personal life

Rhodes is married to Ann Norris, who was chief foreign policy adviser to former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA). They have one daughter, Ella Harper.


Ben Rhodes (White House staffer) Wikipedia