Mary Kate Cary

Practitioner Senior Fellow

Fast Facts

  • Former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush
  • Provides political commentary for NPR, CNN, Fox News Channel, and CTV (Canada)
  • Executive producer of 41ON41, a documentary about President George H.W. Bush
  • Expertise on presidential communications, speechwriting

Areas Of Expertise

  • Domestic Affairs
  • Media and the Press
  • Governance
  • Elections
  • Leadership
  • Politics
  • The Presidency

Mary Kate Cary, practitioner senior fellow, served as a White House speechwriter for President George H. W. Bush from 1989 to early 1992, authoring more than 100 of his presidential addresses. She also has ghostwritten several books related to President Bush’s life and career and served as senior writer for communications for the 1988 Bush-Quayle presidential campaign.

Currently an adjunct professor in the University of Virginia’s Department of Politics, Cary teaches classes on political speechwriting; the greatest American political speeches; and the 2020 presidential election. In her first year in the politics department, she was recognized by the UVA Student Council for excellence in teaching.

Cary currently chairs the advisory board of the George and Barbara Bush Foundation, where she has been a member since 2004. The Bush Foundation oversees the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum and the Bush School of Government & Public Service, with campuses at Texas A&M University and in Washington, D.C.. In 2014, she was the creator and executive producer of 41ON41, a documentary about President George H. W. Bush, which premiered internationally on CNN. She is also a producer of President in Waiting, a documentary about the modern vice presidency that features interviews with all of the living vice presidents, which debuted on CNN in December 2020.

Following her tenure at the White House, Cary served as spokesman and deputy director of policy and communications for U.S. Attorney General William Barr and deputy director of communications at the Republican National Committee under Chairman Haley Barbour. She also served as a long-time columnist at US News & World Report, writing on politics and the presidency.

Cary is currently a member of the Ronald Reagan Institute's Women in Civics Advisory Council; UVA's Darden School of Business Leadership Communication Council; and the national advisory board of The Network of Enlightened Women, which supports conservative female leaders on more than 50 college campuses. She is a long-time member of the Judson Welliver Society of former presidential speechwriters.

Mary Kate Cary News Feed

However, not all the experts Newsweek spoke to agreed; Mary Kate Cary a former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush and senior fellow at the University of Virginia's The Miller Center, said the distinction "boils down to a difference between 'the administration' and 'the White House.' Most people in Washington would define the White House to include the personal staffs of the president and the vice president and their spouses," Cary said.
Mary Kate Cary Newsweek
Mary Kate Cary is lecturer in politics and senior faculty fellow at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. A group of the author’s speechwriting students contributed to this article, reprinted from 'The Conversation.'
Mary Kate Cary UVA Today
In any administration, writing the annual State of the Union address is a difficult assignment. I should know: I am a former presidential speechwriter for George H.W. Bush, and while I never wrote a State of the Union speech, I’ve seen the process up close and was always relieved to have dodged the bullet. Sure, the State of the Union speech is one of the great rituals of our American democracy – but it’s also an unusually difficult and thankless job for any speechwriter.
Mary Kate Cary The Conversation
"It’s not a foregone conclusion that he was going to run for reelection,” said Mary Kate Cary, a practitioner senior fellow at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center.
Mary Kate Cary The Hill
Mary Kate Cary is a practitioner senior fellow at the University of Virginia's Miller Center. She discussed the Virginia congressional midterm elections and more.
Mary Kate Cary WINA
Jered Cooper, a third-year student and government major, won the competition and a $500 prize. The competition was organized by the University of Virginia's Miller Center Practitioner Senior Fellow Mary Kate Cary.
Mary Kate Cary UVA Today