Robert Shrum is the Director of the Center for the Political Future and the Carmen H. and Louis Warschaw Chair in Practical Politics at USC Dornsife. A legendary political strategist, he was once described as "the most sought-after consultant in the Democratic Party," by The Atlantic Monthly. He was a speechwriter for Senator George McGovern in the 1972 presidential campaign and for Senator Edward Kennedy in the 1980 presidential campaign. He served as the Senator’s Press Secretary in the early 1980s and as a political consultant and strategist in his subsequent Senate campaigns. He was also the strategist in over 25 other winning U.S. Senate campaigns, eight successful campaigns for governor, successful campaigns for mayors in major American cities, and numerous campaigns for Congress and other statewide offices. His clients included Joe Biden, John Glenn, Barbara Mikulski, David Dinkins, and Tom Bradley - and John Kerry and Al Gore in their presidential races. Overseas his clients included Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the British Labour Party, the Prime Minister of Ireland, and the Presidents of Colombia and Bolivia.
In 2005 he shifted his attention to the academic world. Professor Shrum teaches several classes at USC on domestic policy, applied politics, and elections. He had previously taught at New York University, was a Silliman Fellow at Yale, and Kennedy Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Edward M Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate.
Shrum’s book, No Excuse: Concessions of a Serial Campaigner was a national bestseller published in June 2007 by Simon and Schuster. As a journalist, Shrum’s work has appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, Time, Newsweek, and The Huffington Post. He has been a columnist for Slate, The Week, and the Daily Beast. He has written for commercial television, including “The Emmy Awards,” “The American Film Institute Life Achievement Awards,” and the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning “Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts,” for which he received a Writers Guild of America award.
He is a graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School. While at Georgetown, Shrum was named top speaker at the 1965 Collegiate National Debate Tournament. An award named after Shrum is now presented annually to the top speaker at the National Speech and Debate Tournament for high school students. Shrum was born in Connellsville, Pennsylvania and raised in Culver City, California. He now lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife, the writer and activist Marylouise Oates, and their dog Cody.
In 2015 Shrum received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) and was inducted into its Hall of Fame.