Mary Kate Cary

Practitioner Senior Fellow

Fast Facts

  • Former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush
  • Provides political commentary for NPR, CNN, Fox News Channel, and CTV (Canada)
  • Executive producer of 41ON41, a documentary about President George H.W. Bush
  • Expertise on presidential communications, speechwriting

Areas Of Expertise

  • Domestic Affairs
  • Media and the Press
  • Governance
  • Elections
  • Leadership
  • Politics
  • The Presidency

Mary Kate Cary, Anne C. Strickler Practitioner Senior Fellow, served as a White House speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to early 1992, authoring more than 100 of his presidential addresses. She also has ghostwritten several books related to President Bush’s life and career and served as senior writer for communications for the 1988 Bush-Quayle presidential campaign.

Today, Cary is asked to write speeches, presentations, and reports for a variety of national political, corporate, and nonprofit leaders. Her assignments have included State of the Union responses, Republican National Convention addresses, and TED talks. She served as founding managing editor of the daily political news service The Hotline, as a staffer at ABC News’ This Week with David Brinkley, and as a columnist at U.S. News & World Report.

Following her tenure at the White House, Cary served as spokesman and deputy director of policy and communications for U.S. Attorney General William Barr and deputy director of communications at the Republican National Committee under Chairman Haley Barbour. She has been a member of the Judson Welliver Society, which is comprised of former White House speechwriters from both parties. She is also a member of the Jeane Kirkpatrick Society, a group of female writers and columnists in Washington, D.C.

Cary is the executive producer of 41ON41, a documentary film about President George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States. 

Mary Kate Cary News Feed

Kyle O’Connor, former speechwriter for President Obama, joins Mary Kate this week to share stories about what it’s like to be young speechwriters at the White House, and which college experience — other than drinking heavily — best prepared them for the job. The two compare watching the McCain funeral on YouTube (Kyle) and in audience at the National Cathedral (Mary Kate), pick their favorite eulogies, and analyze the opening statements at the Kavanaugh hearings. Spoiler alert: like everyone else in Washington, they deny writing the anonymous New York Times Op-Ed. Unlike everyone else in Washington, they have some interesting takes on the whodunnit.
Mary Kate Cary Bipodisan
Bipodisan heads to the campus of George Washington University this week, to hear from four former candidates for office from both sides of the aisle. All of them come from very different walks of life and are different ages — and all happen to be fascinating women. In front of a packed house, listen as they talk about what it was like to run for office, the obstacles they overcame, and some of the crazy comments they got from voters. Warning: listening might make you want to run for office, too.
Mary Kate Cary Bipodisan
Mary Kate Cary, who worked as a speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to early 1992, said that speeches to Congress are typically given the highest-level of fact-checking within the White House. “It was one researcher one speechwriter for every speech,” she recalled. “Then, once you wrote it, the researchers would fact check literally every word and, in those days, they had to put a check mark over every word.”
Mary Kate Cary TIME
It’s August in Washington, and it seems all the D’s and R’s are on vacation. No worries: over at the bar at Chatter, Mary Kate sits down with her friend Jonathan Allen — not a partisan but a straight-down-the-middle ace reporter for NBC News — to hear what it was like to be in the room with President Trump, Kim Jung Un, Vladimir Putin, AND among the crowd at the Trump rally in Tampa. He also gives his straight take on Kavanaugh, the Koch brothers, and the midterms. Jon’s the co-author of a New York Times #1 best-seller about the 2016 race, and he offers up what 2020 presidential contenders on both sides of the aisle could learn about messaging, data analytics, and demographics in 2016. (See if you can guess the two words HRC thought would never come out of her mouth — but did.) Plus ending gridlock, and being hopeful.
Mary Kate Cary Bipodisan
A study from the Pew Research Center shows that millennials make up the majority of the electorate, yet many don't show up to vote. Why are young people discouraged from going to the polls? And what are candidates doing to encourage them to cast ballots in the upcoming midterm elections? MPR News host Kerri Miller spoke with Khalilah Brown-Dean, associate professor of political science at Quinnipiac University, and Mary Kate Cary, senior fellow for presidential studies at the University of Virginia's Miller Center and former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush.
Mary Kate Cary MPR News
“We were having a hard time finding podcasts that featured both sides actually talking to each other,” said Mary Kate Cary, a senior fellow at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush. That’s how she and fellow presidential speechwriter Paul Orzulak – a Democrat who worked for President Bill Clinton – ended up sitting opposite each other every Thursday at Chatter Bar and Grill, a Washington watering hole and part-time recording studio owned by ESPN talk show host Tony Kornheiser.
Mary Kate Cary UVA Today