Devine was born June 11, 1955 in Providence, Rhode Island. He grew up in South Providence and was raised as a Roman Catholic. He attended the La Salle Academy. He received his A.B. in American history from Brown University, and his J.D. from Suffolk University School of Law. He is a member of the Bar in Rhode Island and the District of Columbia.
From 1982-83 Devine served as a law clerk to the Rhode Island Superior Court, and from 1985-1987 he worked as an Associate Attorney in the Washington, D.C. office of the law firm of Winston & Strawn. From 1989-1990, he served as a Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, Joseph R. Paolino Jr.
Devine is considered one of the leading experts on the Democratic Party's presidential nominating process and general election strategy. In 1980, he worked on President Jimmy Carter's reelection campaign as a delegate tracker. He went on to serve as Deputy Director of Delegate Selection in the nomination campaign of former Vice President Walter Mondale and Executive Assistant to the Campaign Manager in the 1984 general election.
From 1987-88, he served as Director of Delegate Selection and Field Operations in the nomination campaign of Governor Michael Dukakis. In 1992, Devine served as a member of the Democratic Party Rules Committee and was a consultant to CBS News throughout the Democratic National Convention in New York. As lead negotiator for the Dukakis campaign at the 1988 Rules Committee, Devine was involved in the Democratic party's 1988 reform that eliminated winner take all methods of delegate selection and established proportional representation as the exclusive system of delegate allocation in the Democratic Party.
In the general election of 1988, Devine got his start managing national campaigns when he served as Campaign Manager for the Vice Presidential nominee, Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas. In 1992, Devine served as Campaign Manager for Senator Bob Kerrey's campaign for President.
In the 2000 general election, Devine served as a senior strategist to the Gore/Lieberman campaign and oversaw the day-to-day management of the campaign. Devine was recruited by Carter Eskew to join the campaign part-time in August 1999. In the fall of 1999 and early months of 2000, he was sent occasionally to Gore's campaign headquarters in Nashville as a trouble shooter when Gore was looking for an AFL-CIO endorsement and during the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. In the late spring and early summer of 2000, Devine shifted into a more central role in the campaign. He was recognized not only as a "fierce campaigner", but also as a "mediator among some of the factions that developed within the Gore campaign." Upon his elevation, Devine helped put Democrats, who were nervous about Gore's success in the primary election against Bill Bradley, at ease. Devine, unlike other Gore advisers, suggested taking on Bradley by questioning his credentials as a Democrat. He also used his extensive knowledge of the Democratic party rules to help ensure Gore's victory in the primary by lobbying members of the Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws Committee to disallow any primaries in the five weeks between New Hampshire and Super Tuesday. His aim was to minimize Bradley's political momentum should he win the New Hampshire primary and maximize the effect a New Hampshire loss would have. Devine was also willing to put himself in the role of the contrarian, occasionally questioning Gore's recommendations and telling him when his opinion differed.
In 2003 and 2004, Devine served as a senior adviser and strategist to Senator John Kerry's campaign for President in both the primary and the general election. His elevation to a senior strategic role coincided with Senator Kerry's turn around in late 2003, and Devine remained in a senior role throughout the remainder of the campaign. He frequently represented the campaign on national television programs such as Meet the Press, C-SPAN, Face the Nation and other broadcasts.
Devine began work with the Sanders campaign in 2015 until its suspension in 2016.
Since early 1993, Devine has worked as a media consultant, writing, directing and producing television and radio advertising for leading Democratic candidates in the U.S. and providing strategic advice for national campaigns in Europe, the Middle East and South America. Devine has worked on the winning campaigns of New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine in 2005, and several campaigns of senators, including Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Bill Nelson (FL), Bernie Sanders (VT), John Kerry (MA) and the DSCC independent expenditure for the winning senate races of Claire McCaskill (MO) and Robert Menendez (NJ), as well as numerous statewide elections. Devine's work as a strategist and media consultant has been recognized by leading media and political consulting organizations. Devine has produced award-winning television advertising for Sen. Edward Kennedy (MA), Sen. John Edwards (NC), and Gov. Parris Glendening (MD).
Internationally, Devine has worked as a strategist and media consultant for the winning campaigns of Colombian President Andres Pastrana in 1998, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 1999, Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo in 2001, Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada in 2002, Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in 1997, 2002 and 2007, Honduran President Mel Zelaya in 2005, and Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich and the Party of Regions in 2006. He worked again with Yanukovich in 2009 and 2010 for his successful Presidential bid. He served as a strategist and media consultant for Ashraf Ghani's 2009 presidential campaign in Afghanistan.
In 2007, Devine joined with Julian Mulvey to form Devine Mulvey, a US and international political consulting firm offering strategic and communications advice to clients across the globe. Leading political organizations have recognized their work with several awards including best Internet ad in 2008 and best statewide ad in 2009. Devine Mulvey received four Reed Awards in 2010 from Campaign and Elections Politics magazine, including the award for Best Statewide Ad, and seven 2010 Pollie awards from the American Association of Political Consultants.
In 2013, Mark Longabaugh joined the firm to form Devine Mulvey Longabaugh.
From 1991-1993, Devine served as Assistant to the President of Boston University. In addition to his duties in the President's office, Devine taught a course on presidential campaigns in the Department of Political Science and was a frequent university lecturer. He has also taught campaign management and strategy courses at the Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University. Devine wrote the chapter on "Paid Media – In an Era of Revolutionary Change" in the book Campaigns on the Cutting Edge (CQ Press, 2008) and on how Barack Obama won the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination in the book Campaigning for President (Routledge 2009). He also frequently lectures in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. He has lectured at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government on numerous occasions and is a regular lecturer at the American University's Washington Internship Program and for the "Politics and Journalism Semester" program at the Washington Center for Politics & Journalism. He participates frequently in public fora, such as 2009's Bipartisan Policy Center's Inaugural Political Summit] at Tulane University, entitled "Taking the Poison Out of Partisanship.".
In 2011, Tad Devine was a Fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Devine led a study group at the Institute of Politics on American political consultants who work in foreign campaigns. While at the Kennedy School, Mr. Devine published an article in the Harvard International Review on restoring American political exceptionalism in the wake of the Bush presidency.
In 2013, Mr. Devine taught a course at New York University in Washington D.C. on media and strategy in domestic and international campaigns. In The fall of 2013, he taught a course on media and strategy at the University of Pennsylvania Washington Semester Program in Washington, DC.
Devine has appeared on television programs including Andrea Mitchell Reports, Meet the Press, Face the Nation, FOX News and every major American network, as well as the BBC and other foreign media outlets. Devine guested on the Colbert Report twice, first on February 6, 2008 and later on May 29, 2008, to lend his expertise on superdelegates. Devine appears in the 2005 Rachel Boynton documentary "Our Brand Is Crisis", which follows American political consultants including James Carville, Stan Greenberg, Jeremy Rosner, and Devine during the 2002 Bolivian presidential campaign. He was a guest in a segment of Daily Show on April 17, 2012 and in November 2012.