White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates Helps Shape President’s Messages to the Public
What can you do with an NC State degree in political science? Ask White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates.
At 33, Bates is a political communication veteran. In 15 years, he has gone from interning for Congressman Brad Miller and working on the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton and Joe Biden to joining President Biden’s White House press staff. In between, Bates was the spokesperson for U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and handled media relations for President Biden’s Cabinet nominees.
Bates’ passion for politics stems from an early age. When he was 5, his father introduced him to the world of government at a political rally that he mostly slept through, he acknowledges.
“When I got old enough, my dad helped me realize that literally everyone’s life is impacted by politics and government every single day,” he says. “It has tremendous influence over our economy, our national security and so much else.”
He adds that protecting people’s rights is what “drove me into the communications part of political work.”
As a deputy press secretary, he is at the center of all that activity. Bates, on the job since March 2021, says his work includes serving as a main contact for national reporters, prepping the White House press secretary for press briefings and coordinating public announcements.
“It’s enormously rewarding to speak for causes and proposals you are passionate about while working alongside people you trust, enjoy and respect,” Bates explains. “The most exciting piece is when we get to announce something meaningful about a major issue that affects a huge amount of the country, like when we pass new vaccination milestones or Rescue Plan checks are delivered.”
Of working in the White House, he adds, “Walking through the gate is surreal and humbling. Every day you’re moving quickly through some of the most historic rooms and hallways in America.”
Bates says lessons he learned at NC State prepared him for the political arena and his latest role. Among them were gaining real-world experience to enhance what he learned in class and choosing from diverse courses tailored to his interests.
“I still think back to classes I took about congressional campaigns, public policy and practical campaigning multiple times every week,” says Bates. Members of the political science faculty, he adds, nurtured his interest in political communication.
What he also values about his time at NC State “is learning about the character of North Carolina by meeting and becoming close with people from every part of the state.”
For aspiring political communicators, Bates offers these tips: Push yourself hard, remain humble, understand the value of teamwork, and forge relationships built on honesty and respect.
“Politics, and especially campaigns, are team sports, and there needs to be a strong sense of trust and camaraderie for things to function,” Bates says. “It can also make for some of the most thrilling and gratifying times you’ll ever have.”
This post was originally published in College of Humanities and Social Sciences.