The White House is planning a shakeup of its press and communications team leading up to the fall midterm elections as President Biden’s approval ratings show no sign of improving.
NBC News, citing multiple people familiar with the effort, reported this week that top Biden adviser Anita Dunn has started to interview candidates to replace Kate Bedingfield as communications director after her resignation takes effect Friday.
The leading contenders to take Bedingfield’s place, according to NBC, include assistant secretary of state for global public affairs Liz Allen, deputy communications director Kate Berner and first lady Jill Biden’s communications director Elizabeth Alexander.
The outlet also reported that candidates who have an existing relationship with Biden are being prioritized for the comms director post, though sources claimed that does not preclude additional candidates from consideration.
Bedingfield’s departure is the latest blow to the White House, which also has yet to appoint a deputy press secretary to replace Karine Jean-Pierre — who was elevated to the press secretary position after Jen Psaki left the administration in May.
Soon after Psaki’s resignation, three top press office deputies — Mike Gwin, Vedant Patel and Amanda Finney — also left the White House for other positions in the executive branch.
The staffing changes are being lined up as the president’s job approval rating lags below 40%. As of Wednesday, Biden’s average job approval rating sat at 37.7%, according to data compiled by RealClearPolitics.
Back in May, NBC reported that Biden was growing frustrated with his approval numbers dipping below those of his predecessor — former President Donald Trump — as the press office repeatedly was forced to walk back comments the president made about Russia and Taiwan.
Sources told the outlet that Biden was “furious” that his statements were being seen as unreliable and reportedly reminded his staff that he is the one in charge.
At the same time, administration staffers have reportedly been pointing fingers at each other for Biden’s failing approval numbers.
At the time, high-level staffing changes were predicted, with multiple sources telling the outlet White House chief of staff Ron Klain was expected to leave at some point after the midterms.
If that happens, Dunn is expected to be a top contender to take Klain’s place.