Ari Fleischer

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Ari Fleischer

Lawrence Ari Fleischer (born October 13, 1960) was the press secretary for U.S. President George W. Bush from January 2001 to July 2003.


Congressional staffer

Upon his 1982 graduation from Middlebury College in Vermont, Fleischer worked as press secretary for Jim Fosil, a Republican candidate for a New York Congressional seat. He worked as press secretary for Congressmen Norman Lent From 1985 to 1988 he was the field director for the National Republican Congressional Committee. He went back to being a press secretary in 1988, working for Congressman Joseph DioGuardi for a short time.

Fleischer served as Senator Pete Domenici's press secretary from 1989 to 1994. He then served as spokesman for the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee for five years. Later, he was deputy communications director for George H. W. Bush's 1992 reelection campaign.

White House Press Secretary

Although Fleischer served as communications director for Elizabeth Dole during her presidential run in the 2000 election campaign, he joined George W. Bush's presidential campaign after Dole dropped out of the race. When Bush became president the next year, he tapped Fleischer to be his first press secretary.

Fleischer first introduced a new phrase, homicide bombing, to denote suicide bombing, on April 12, 2002, in an attempt to emphasize the negative connotations of the tactic.

The president ... convened a meeting of the National Security Council, at which point, in the middle of the meeting, the president was informed about this morning's homicide bombing in Jerusalem. ... The Saudi telethon, as they have told it to us, is to provide assistance to the Palestinian people, and that isn't — no money is going to go to provide the homicide bombers with any assistance from the Saudi government.
--Ari Fleischer, "White House Regular Briefing," Federal News Service, April 12, 2002

On May 19, 2003 he announced that he would resign during the summer, citing a desire to spend more time with his wife and to work in the private sector. He was replaced by deputy press secretary Scott McClellan on July 15, 2003.

Fleischer caused controversy on more than one occasion while working at the White House, particularly by criticizing individuals that the administration felt were making unpatriotic remarks. This earned him the nickname "Comical Ari," in allusion to Comical Ali, a popular nickname of the Iraqi press secretary at that time (and itself a play on the nickname Chemical Ali). During a press briefing on February 25, 2003, Ari was in effect laughed off the stage after his remarks with regards to the Bush administration's purported "buying" of votes on the UN Security Council. The exchange that elicited the laughter went as follows:

Q Ari, just to follow up on Mexico. Is it true that the administration is willing to give Mexico some sort of immigration agreements like amnesty or guest worker program, to assure the Mexican vote, as the French press is pointing out today and is quoting, actually, two different diplomats from the State Department?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, it's exactly as I indicated, that we have, on this issue, a matter of diplomacy and a matter of the merits. We ask each nation on the Security Council to weigh the merits and make a decision about war and peace. And if anybody thinks that there are nations like Mexico, whose vote could be bought on the basis of a trade issue or something else like that, I think you're giving -- doing grave injustice to the independence and the judgment of the leaders of other nations.
Q -- the French press is quoting actually two different diplomats from the United States State Department that -- they're highlighting that the United States is giving some sort of agreements or benefits to Colombia -- and other non-members of the Security Council --
MR. FLEISCHER: I haven't seen the story. And you already have the answer, about what this will be decided on. But think about the implications of what you're saying. You're saying that the leaders of other nations are buyable. And that is not an acceptable proposition. (Laughter.)
Thank you. [1] (

Personal life

Fleischer was born in Pound Ridge, New York.

He married the former Rebecca Davis, an employee in the Office of Management and Budget, in November 2002. The couple live in Washington, DC.

Fleischer's brother, Michael Fleischer, works for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

Fleischer is an avid fan of baseball and the New York Yankees, and could be seen from time to time playing catch with President Bush on the White House lawn.

After leaving the White House, he formed his own consulting firm, Ari Fleischer Communications.


  • "Freedom's taste is unquenchable," -- after he was asked about the president's reaction to television coverage of Iraqis dancing, looting and cheering U.S. convoys during the 2003 invasion of Baghdad.

External links

Preceded by:
Jake Siewert
White House Press Secretary
2001 – 2003
Succeeded by:
Scott McClellan

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