Helping to craft the speech that President Barack Obama would deliver in Tucson, Ariz., was perhaps the biggest assignment of White House speechwriter Cody Keenan’s career.
The task for the 30-year-old Northwestern University graduate: help the president eulogize the victims of Saturday’s deadly shootings in Tucson, praise the heroes and unite the nation while, at the same time, rising above the bare-knuckle fight between politicians and pundits about the dismal state of political discourse.
One of nine White House speechwriters, Keenan, a Chicago native and 2002 graduate of Northwestern, helps craft Obama’s message on a daily basis, but the standard for the Tucson speech was higher than that for most assignments.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, speaking with reporters after Wednesday’s speech, said Obama talked with Keenan late Monday. Keenan — who worked with Obama on the president’s eulogy for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) — met with Obama, taking notes on his laptop about the message the president wanted to deliver to the nation.
Keenan got his job as a speechwriting intern on the campaign in 2007 when he was a student at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He then rejoined the campaign the next year when he finished school and joined the administration in the White House. (Full article)