Jon Favreau, Obama's Chief Speechwriter, Quits to Head to Hollywood

Tuesday, 05 Feb 2013 01:52 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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Jon Favreau, chief speechwriter for President Barack Obama, is stepping down after a seven-year stint, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

Favreau, whose career took off when he was just 23 after he boldly interrupted then-aspiring U.S. Sen. Obama during a speech rehearsal, will depart March 1 to possibly try his hand as a screenwriter in Los Angeles. He will be succeeded by Cody Keenan, a Chicago native who is taking the lead on the upcoming State of the Union address, according to the Times.

Favreau has been integral to Obama's success as a public speaker, and has maintained a good reputation of being able to imprint Obama's personality on each of the president's addresses.

"When they're working together, it's like watching two musicians riff," David Axelrod, Obama's longtime advisor, told the Times. "Jon's stamp is on all of the great speeches, from 2005 until now."

Favreau was just a junior speechwriter for Sen. John Kerry in 2004 when he met Obama, then an Illinois state senator running for the U.S. Senate. Obama was reportedly preparing to deliver the Democratic National Convention speech that would launch his national career when Kerry's staff noticed an overlap between their boss's planned remarks and Obama's. They sent Favreau to tell Obama to edit his comments.

"It was an unbelievably cruel thing to do, to send the 23-year-old in to do that job," Axelrod joked to the Times.

Cruel, but vital to Favreau's career, it turned out: Obama hired him after he was elected to the Senate and Favreau never left.

In a statement obtained by the Times, Obama said of Favreau, "He has become a friend and a collaborator on virtually every major speech I've given in the Senate, on the campaign trail and in the White House."

Favreau's tenure as head speechwriter didn’t come without gossip or controversy. He was named one of People magazine's most beautiful people, dated actress Rashida Jones of "The Office," and had his shirtless photo splashed across tabloid front pages in 2010 after a night of beer pong with friends in Georgetown.

Related stories:

President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address

GOP: Obama's Speech Reflects Uncompromising Left-wing Agenda

Obama Desperate to Avoid Miscue in First Debate

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