Joe Trippi: Weird Deaniac?

This morning, I Tweeted about Brexit and included @JoeTrippi because I got the Brexit article from Trippi’s Twitter timeline. Soon, I got a text message from a frenemy who said (spelling cleaned up):

You are still an idiot! Why do you have anything to do with that weird Deaniac Tripp-over-his-lib-bias? It’s congenital with him but it’s low IQ with you. You will never learn. Stop writing, you *******.  You are polluting with wacko, weird words from wacko, weird Deaniacs. Which ****hole did you find him in?


Joe Trippi came to national attention as Howard Dean’s campaign director in 2004. Trippi and I are not friends. Our paths have crossed a few times. The first time was when I received communications from the Dick Gephardt for President campaign in 1988.

Gephardt and I first met as students at Northwestern University. One of my best friends from high school was his fraternity brother and we met at parties. My frat was the most active in campus politics and Gephardt and I crossed paths regularly. I supported Gephardt for student body president. Years later, we worked together when Gephardt was a Democratic leader in Congress, despite being from opposing national political parties.

When Gephardt ran for president in 1988, I was active in the International Association of Political Consultants (IAPC) and learned of Trippi’s work on behalf of Gephardt.  It was impressive. He had the ability to sum up complex concepts in a few memorable words. He was an innovative organizer and fundraiser. We all knew who he was.

In 2002, I was president of IAPC when we gave our Democracy Award to Morgan Tsvangirai of Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai became the only repeat winner in 2010, in part because of Trippi’s work. I have worked with Tsvangirai’s political movement and know how highly Trippi is thought of among Tsvangirai supporters.

Frick and Frack – and Joe Trippi

Beginning in the late 1980s, Joe Napolitan, co-founder of IAPC and founder of the American Association of Political Consultants, invited me to  join him as a “Frick and Frack” team that went around the world speaking about upcoming U.S. elections from our prospective sides of the political aisle. Napolitan earned his spurs as a key advisor to John Kennedy in the years leading to Kennedy’s election in 1960. He introduced me to Michel Bongrand, Charles de Gaulle’s political advisor and IAPC co-founder, who became a close friend. Napolitan and Bongrand did more for my political consulting career that anyone else. Both thought highly of Trippi.

A few years ago, I first teamed with Gary Nordlinger, a successful Washington-based Democratic political consultant, in a new “Frick and Frack” show. We spoke in Madrid for the European  Association of Political Consultants. Trippi was the keynoter. There is no other way to describe his performance than to say he was brilliant and made it seem so effortless. He combined this with humility and friendliness.

Later, at a meeting in New York, a seasoned GOP consultant remarked to me that “(Trippi) is so far ahead that, sometimes, it’s months or even years before I understand everything he was telling us.”

Still learning

I am near the end of my career of consulting and pontificating and Joe Trippi is 15 years younger – but I still have many things to learn from him.




About Radnor Reports

Ken Feltman is past-president of the International Association of Political Consultants and the American League of Lobbyists. He is retired chairman of Radnor Inc., an international political consulting and government relations firm in Washington, D.C. Known as a coalition builder, he has participated in election campaigns and legislative efforts in the United States and several other countries.
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