WASHINGTON (JTA) – AIPAC named Marshall Wittmann, a veteran political player who has worked for Democrats, Republicans and Independents, as its spokesman.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee has not formally announced Wittmann’s appointment, although he is at work this week.
Wittmann, 58, most recently the communications director for U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), is known in Washington as a "quote machine."
He has worked for the Democratic Party’s centrist Democratic Leadership Council and served as communications director for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
Wittman also was an assistant deputy health secretary in the George H. W. Bush administration and worked for the conservative Heritage Foundation and Hudson Institute think tanks.
In the 1990s he served as spokesman for the Christian Coalition, which then was seen as an unusual appointment because Wittmann is Jewish.
Wittman is a favorite of reporters for his wit and candor. Among his more well-known coinages is the term "slime and defend," used in 2003 in a then-anonymous attack on the Bush administration’s outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame in retaliation for criticism by her husband, former U.S. diplomat Joseph Wilson, for his criticism of its Iraq War policy. (A Republican congressional staffer at the time, Wittman later acknowledged the quote.)
AIPAC has been without a full-time spokesman since earlier this year.