This is a drama in two acts. Act One was an "ooops, that microphone was still on???" moment at the end of a Rick Perry appearance in New Hampshire. A man who could be cast as a lobbyist in a DC-based potboiler movie, and who actually turns out to be Director of Public Policy for America's biggest bank
Now here is Act Two, the beauty part. Lawrence Di Rita, formerly known as head spokesman for Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon, is now the spokesman for Bank of America. And his explanation will enter the classic ranks of PR-dom. According to the WSJ he said (emphasis added):
>>"Bank of America does not endorse Presidential candidates. The reference was about following up on the substance of his speech about job creation and economic growth. Discussing policy issues that affect our company and our customers is something we do with policymakers of both parties routinely at the local, state, and Federal levels."<<
There is enough in the political news to make you unhappy. It's worth treasuring an occasion to smile, even guffaw.
* According to Politico, the man in the scene actually "does policy" for B of A, rather than officially lobbying. OK. But: "Bank of America. We'll help you out."??? Come on.
UPDATE ACT THREE: In addition to its convincing "follow up on substance" explanation, Bank of America was at pains to make clear that its official was not a registered "lobbyist," but in fact a "policy" expert. Thus the corrections carefully noted above, which don't change the nature of the interaction.
But it turns out that the "policy director," James Mahoney, is the chairman of Bank of America's Political Action Committee in New Hampshire. This according to the official PAC filing with the New Hampshire state government, which Ben Smith of Politico obtained. Political Action Committees, just to be clear about it, exist to hand out money. So it wasn't a "lobbyist" who said in a candidate's ear, "Bank of America. We'll help you out." It was the policy director, who heads the PAC, which gives politicians dough. In that sense, a kind of super-lobbyist.
I didn't think the previous PR savvy could be topped, but now it has.