By Kris Kitto - 09/30/08 04:35 PM EDT
Lindsay Hamilton almost missed a once-in-a-lifetime brush with fame: a photo opportunity with Angelina Jolie.
The dutiful Hamilton, then a scheduler for Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), was worried about leaving the office phones unmanned while Jolie posed for pictures with the senator’s aides after stopping by for humanitarian shop talk.
Hagel noticed his scheduler’s diligence and brought Hamilton over to Jolie to get the photo. As exciting as it was to meet Jolie, Hamilton said, the picture won’t ever be posted on Facebook.
“No one looks good standing next to Angelina Jolie,” she explains. “That photo will never be seen again.”
Hamilton has now switched chambers — and sides of the aisle — as the new press secretary for Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.).
In the transition, Hamilton squeezed in graduate school at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and did multiple stints at ABC News. During her time there, higher-ups required her to impersonate Cokie Roberts. Another office scene involved a multiple-floor office sprint, “throwing paper at people as fast as I could.”
Before all that, though, Hamilton garnered a reputation as “the political girl” in high school. She was a member of her hometown Omaha, Neb., Student Democrats, helping the group reach out to the marginalized teenaged skateboarders who had nowhere to ride. They got them a skate park and organized open-mic nights.
She has always been a Democrat, but upon her 2004 graduation from George Washington University, she sent her résumé to every female Democratic senator and many other lawmakers whose districts she had ties to — including some Republicans.
Hagel’s office called. They hired her as his personal assistant, and later made her his scheduler. While she did not share her boss’s party affiliation, she said she has great respect for him, especially when it comes to foreign affairs. The party difference was never an issue, she said.
Hamilton worked for ABC while in graduate school, staffing the evening shifts for Charlie Gibson’s newscasts and for weekend news shows. At one point, she was the runner, a job that required her to sprint from floor to floor minutes before the show, dropping off lineups and scripts.
After finishing at Columbia, Hamilton returned to D.C. to take a production coordinator job with ABC’s Sunday morning show “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.”
When the show moved to the Newseum, Hamilton played a special role for rehearsals. She was the stand-in for journalist Cokie Roberts, and once had to play Roberts for a run-through with Stephanopoulos and political columnist George Will.
“It was nerve-racking because we did a full five or six minutes before we were like, ‘OK, we can just chitchat now,’ ” she said.
Eventually, Hamilton felt the call of politics again.
“It’s hard to watch everything go by and stifle yourself,” she said. She now finds joy in doing Web videos for Israel and pitching stories in a way she wished she would’ve been pitched when she was a journalist.
How does she feel about the switch?
“It was a fantastic decision,” she says.