This is not Palmieri's first time at the White House. Nor is it the first time she has come to the defense of an embattled officeholder. Even though she's only 46, she has been around town long enough to have helped a president (Bill Clinton) fight allegations of sexual relations in the White House and a presidential candidate (John Edwards) come clean on fathering a child outside his marriage. So Palmieri doesn't even break a sweat in the Obama White House, where the controversies have more to do with policy choices and bureaucratic decisions. The Pascagoula, Miss., native is one of the few staffers who lasted all eight years in the Clinton White House, ending up as a deputy press secretary. Then she worked on Edwards's campaigns in 2004 and 2008, forging a close bond with the candidate's wife, Elizabeth Edwards. Palmieri wasn't an original Obama backer, spending some time at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, before coming to the White House in late 2011. Today, she is the communications director. It's a position where her political savvy, experience in the Clinton White House, and longtime close ties to Washington reporters pay off. She is a graduate of American University, and her first job was with then-Rep. Leon Panetta of California.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.