Former Aide To The Mooch Is Now Hillary’s ‘Image Consultant’
She has an uphill battle.
To get a brief reprieve from the pressures of working in the White House, Kristina Schake, a former aide to the first lady, Michelle Obama, took a class about her favorite painter, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.
She noticed that the Italian painter often showed Christ with bare feet, portraying his subject as a common man.
It was a lesson that informed Ms. Schake’s job in the East Wing when, as Mrs. Obama’s communications chief, she encouraged the first lady to take an undercover shopping trip to a Target in suburban Alexandria, Va., to showcase her dance moves on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” and to make a cameo at the Oscars.
Positioning a public figure is not exactly the work of a Baroque master, and a trip to Target does not a work of-art make. Nevertheless, the lesson from Caravaggio was clear in Ms. Schake’s approach.
Having helped shape Mrs. Obama’s public image into that of an accessible everywoman, Ms. Schake is about to face what may be her toughest challenge yet: working to get another first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, elected president.
Mrs. Clinton, who is expected to announce her candidacy this month, has brought Ms. Schake, 45, to her 2016 communications team to try to tackle an issue that dogged the 2008 Clinton campaign.
Back then, Mrs. Clinton’s advisers argued she should emphasize strength and experience, rather than her softer side, a strategic decision that Ann Lewis, a senior adviser in that race, has called the “biggest missed opportunity” in the failed 2008 primary contest against Barack Obama.[…]
That won’t necessarily mean she will mimic Mrs. Obama’s “Driving the Station Wagon” dance on late-night TV, but Mrs. Clinton could, for example, talk to the Food Network about dinners with girlfriends or discuss her yoga routines on a health and wellness blog.
The proliferation of new ways to reach voters through multiple devices means “it’s not the same formula in politics that it was even just four years ago or eight years ago,” said Stephanie Cutter, a Democratic strategist and a deputy campaign manager for the Obama reelection campaign. “It’s about understanding people who are just living their lives and figuring out ways to fit a candidate into that, rather than vice versa.”
Ms. Schake, who declined to be interviewed for this article, first learned what resonates with a mass American audience from the man best known for “All in the Family” and “When Harry Met Sally.” In 1998 the actor and director Rob Reiner and his wife, Michele Singer Reiner, hired her to help with their push to pass a ballot initiative that would add a 50-cent tax to each pack of cigarettes sold in California to fund early childhood education.