Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

Karen Hughes has been described as “the most powerful woman ever to serve in the White House�? (Dallas Morning News) and President George W. Bush's "most essential advisor" (ABC News).

Before beginning her political career, Hughes worked as a television news reporter from 1977 to 1984. As a reporter, Hughes followed the presidential campaign in 1980. In 1984, she left journalism to work as the Texas press coordinator for the Reagan-Bush (Sr.) campaign. Hughes served as Counselor to President George W. Bush during his first eighteen-months in office and as his communications director since he first ran for Governor of Texas in 1994. In 2002, she resigned her position to return to Texas in order to spend more time with her family. In August 2004, she joined the Bush re-election campaign staff and was responsible for organizing the 2004 Republican Convention.

On March 14, 2005, Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice announced President Bush's intention to nominate Hughes as Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. The nomination was made official on July 1, 2005.

Hughes’ nomination coincided closely with two controversial presidential appointments: Undersecretary of State, John Bolton as Ambassador to the United Nations and US Deputy Defense Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz as the head of the World Bank. Thus coverage and commentary about Hughes’ appointment was largely subsumed by broader discussions about Bush’s decision to appoint three “Bush insiders�? to such high profile foreign policy positions.

Only two Senators, Chairman Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio attended Hughes' confirmation Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 22, 2005. On July 29, 2005 the Committee endorsed Hughes' nomination through a voice vote.

For the most part, press and political pundits alike herald Hughes’ appointment as a sign of the Bush administration’s commitment to bolstering American public diplomacy. As Under Secretary, Hughes will control $430 million for the 2006 fiscal year allocated towards educational and cultural exchange programs, and she will have influence over almost $1 billion in other department spending on public diplomacy and overseas broadcasting.

According to Hughes, she will begin her appointment on August 15. Hughes will be aided by Deputy Under Secretary, Dina Powell.

Speeches and Statements on Public Diplomacy

  • Public Diplomacy Testimony hearing before the Committee on International Relations, U.S. House of Representative, Washington, D.C. (Nov, 10, 2005) - streaming video.
  • Testimony at confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Washington, DC (July 22, 2005)

Further Reading

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.