Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
About Chris Cillizza  |  On Twitter: The Fix and The Hyper Fix  |  On Facebook  |  On YouTube  |  RSS Feeds RSS Feed

Frist Dabbles in the 'Presentational Arts'

While trolling through the financial reports of potential presidential candidates over the last few days, one expenditure in particular caught our eye.

Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist speaks at a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, on April 13. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is seen at left. Frist paid for public speaking lessons from a company called "Podium Master." (AP Photo)

In mid-January Sen. Bill Frist's Volunteer PAC paid a company called Podium Master $1,750 for "communications consulting". He also paid the company an additional $3,000 last fall. Needless to say, The Fix was intrigued and dug a bit deeper.

A quick Google search turned up the Podium Master Web site, which bills the company as "dedicated to the transcendence of the presentational arts." In English that means that Podium Master offers speech training for public figures -- including politicians.

"One need look only as far as the Kennedy/Nixon debates, or the campaigns of George H.W. Bush v. Bill Clinton or virtually every other political campaign on record, to know that in the end, it all boils down to who gives a better presentation," according to the section of the site dedicated to political candidates. Podium Master offers a half-day training session in which one person works with the candidate to discuss his or her strengths and weaknesses while another works with the campaign to help best prep the candidate before speeches.

Asked about the expenditures, a Frist adviser said the Senator is "constantly refining techniques to better communicate the importance of electing our candidates this November."

Despite that rhetoric, Frist's speech training seems more aimed at his likely 2008 presidential bid than the 2006 midterm elections. Even Frist's closest advisers acknowledge that he struggles when delivering a speech -- as evidenced by his less than stellar delivery at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in March.

Who other than Frist uses Podium Master? The only other candidate paying the firm in the last three cycles was Verne Buchanan, who is running for the Florida seat being vacated by Rep. Katherine Harris (R) this fall. He spent $4,400 on "speech training" on Jan. 31.

By Chris Cillizza  |  April 27, 2006; 12:42 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Leadership PACs: The 2008 Republicans
Next: Clash in Connecticut's 5th


While trolling through the financial reports of potential presidential candidates over the last few days, one expenditure in particular caught our eye.
I do not agree.For more info go to System.String[]

Posted by: krakow apartments | September 26, 2006 5:15 AM | Report abuse

It doesn't matter how good Frist looks, or what he says, untill he votes the right way
he will not get my vote.
He does the Texas two-step whenever asked a question directly.
No matter what he does or says, He ain't
gonna get my vote.

Posted by: Joyce A. Luna | June 6, 2006 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Poor Frist, he paid $100,000 to bus in his delegates from Tennesse on bus after bus, and paid for their delegate badges so they were ready to march into the Peabody Hotel in Memphis for a straw poll. The competition for 2008 is so hot and so heavy now, imagine what it will be after the 2006 election. McCain stomped all over Frist by getting 147 people to write in the name of President Bush. (the McCain campaign also paid $100,000 for printing costs of the "write-in Bush" cards to be handed out, plus pay the costs of the McCain operatives to be at the event.)
If that was supposed to be a test of the political waters, as it was advertized, it only exposed the soft underbelly of what lengths weak candidates like Frist will use to try to win delegates against McCain. McCain would never win Tennesse, that is true, if Frist runs, but by the time of Super Tuesday, in March 2006, who knows who the Republicans will have chosen?
The Romney group also spent money to get their delegates from Mass. to get to Memphis, so they understand how much of a battle the 2008 campaign presents.

Posted by: Debbie Watson | April 30, 2006 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that I have to come to a blog and find out about a poll instead of it being reported in the other major media sites. Thanks for the info and I will stay tuned.

Posted by: Tom | April 29, 2006 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I found this link of college students selecting their favorite female for president.

Out of 45 states, 13,000 students cast their votes out of 8 female politicans.

4,958 votes cast for Condi
3,927 votes cast for Hillary
763 for Kay Bailey Hutchison, recently listed for VP as a choice.

This is interesting stuff that is happening in our nation already 1 year and 8 months before the Iowa Caucus in January 2008.

Any comments?

Posted by: Tina | April 29, 2006 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Josh, the Republican party has the duty to select a strong leader for 2008. You should read Ellen Goodman's column praying for John Kerry to end his dream of running again in 2008. He would become the Adlai Stevenson of your party (you know, that wimpy guy who ran for president in 1952 and 1956 against Eisenhower).
The cross-over Democrats voted for McCain in 2000, and independents in a few states were also allowed to vote in Republican primaries. But when only Republicans voted, they supported Gov Bush in 2000. Now my point is that the voters who wanted McCain in 2000 have a chance to support him again in 2008. The Bush voters are going to have to organize who they want, and from the polls of the Republican party, it comes down to Rudy, George Allen, Condi Rice, and Romney. True and loyal Republicans are more angry at McCain for the GANG of 14 scheme instead of getting the federal judges voted on. Frist might be the choice of the Democrats, but he is not going to be the choice of the Republicans.

Posted by: Tina | April 28, 2006 12:55 PM | Report abuse

What can I say about Frist. The man is barely seems smarter than Bush without the campaign instincts that Bush had in 2004 and 2000. I as a Democrat pray that he is Republican's nominee because I think we could run Jesse Jackson as our nominee and beat that fool.

Posted by: Josh | April 28, 2006 10:24 AM | Report abuse

I think it's a bit too late for Frist... He may needs to start training on how to live life as a retired politician...

Frist is done.

Posted by: Texan Centrist Democrat | April 27, 2006 9:49 PM | Report abuse

What's baffling to me is that Bill Frist still thinks he could be president. Ain't gonna happen.

Posted by: Mike 234 | April 27, 2006 9:26 PM | Report abuse

Ginny: The Schiavo case proved that Frist is both a poor politician and a poor doctor.

The American people don't care about Bill Frist. Bill Clinton, by contrast, could get elected president again and again (certainly more easily than his wife).

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | April 27, 2006 6:37 PM | Report abuse

rkb - the Schiavo case just proves that Frist isn't a politician - he would have never taken the action that he did if he were an experienced politician - but I don't think that hurt him nearly as much as you seem to think - the American people are very forgiving - they forgave Bill Clinton (who I thought was a great President) - most people down here in the South agreed with Frist's decision to ask a federal court to look at what was going on in the Schiavo case. His mistake was in his speech on the Senate floor - but a lot of people made mistakes in that case - not just him.

Posted by: Ginny | April 27, 2006 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Ginny, I'm wondering how you can say that Frist isn't a politician after his Terri Shiavo diagnosis-by-video stunt. That was PURE politician...and it turned off a lot of republican voters that I know.

Posted by: rkb | April 27, 2006 5:43 PM | Report abuse

two observations: podium masters' fees are cheap... and for this to be effective, you need 5-6 sessions interspersed within a 5-6 month period. needs better, more frequent help.

Posted by: gordon hensley | April 27, 2006 5:33 PM | Report abuse

From Podium Master testimonials:

"Thank you for working with me at our recent National Convention. This is not the first time you have helped me make a speech better than it would have been otherwise. It was a pleasure seeing you and your wife Jeanette again. You both are truly podium masters."

William H. Frist, MD
Majority Leader, United States Senate

Posted by: Not the first time! | April 27, 2006 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Cal Gal. Hagel is the best. Smart and well-spoken. Not a spineless, mealy-mouthed guy like Frist, not a dim bulb like Allen, and not a right-wing appeaser like McCain. I WISH he could somehow find a way to pull ahead of these other guys.

Posted by: THS | April 27, 2006 5:10 PM | Report abuse

As bad as Frist is, George Allen is worse. He is so lightweight, Babs Mikulski could probably body slam him.

And that fake Virginia hillbilly accent -- give it a rest, Junior.

Your father was a great, great coach but you are a mediocre senator and you'll never be president.

I would love to see Mark Warner vs George Allen. Warner would mop the floor with this gasbag.

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | April 27, 2006 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Joan, you can underestimate Frist all you want. It only helps him, I too have heard him speak. I know he needs to improve and he will. Give me a non-politician any time. Frist has almost two years to move up in the polls. I have no doubt he will. The most important thing that he has going for him is that he is a good person.

Posted by: Ginny | April 27, 2006 4:25 PM | Report abuse

So the anti-Hollywood Republicans are turning to acting classes -

is there no end to the game playing

I put Condi's chances of winning the Republican Primary at 0 and Fists even lower - (we all know the Southern Republicans on Super Tuesday are going to turn out for COndi - run Condi run so that the world can see the Southern Republican Party is still run by men in white hoods.

BObby Wightman-Cervantes

Posted by: BObby WIghtman-Cervantes | April 27, 2006 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Ginny for that thought viewpoint about Frist, I am sure he would be please that you support him. But the reality is that Frist is not going to win support in Iowa or any other early state for the nomination in 2008. Underestimate him, honey, I heard him speak at a recent event. Good grief, he needs to shorten his speech down to only 5 minutes instead of the long drawnout affair about how a heart surgeon can influence politics. It might have worked with he came in as Majority Leader to revitalize the GOP in the Senate, but that speech is old and tired. He MUST speak louder, speak well, and keep that speech short. No one is going to listen to that 20 minutes of Tennesse drawl. I also saw him on Cspan when he was supposedly angry after the Gang of 14 blocked his ability to end the filibustering of so many of Bush's judges. McCain, Graham of S Carolina, DeWine of Ohio, and one or two of the Republican women from Maine shoved a stick up into the inner body of Frist and he failed to scream. He was not angry in tone of voice, in his actions, or in any style. He is a good doctor, temperment of care for patients, but the Republican party does not need his type of medicine. Sorry, Frist is out and the polls have him at the bottom of the list against 12 other Republicans who are strong leaders, like Allen, Rudy, McCain, Rice, and Romney. Take your pick, any of them could be a great president.

Posted by: Joan | April 27, 2006 4:13 PM | Report abuse

It's going to take more than half a day
to make sen Frist a good speaker. He won't win votes when he puts everyone to sleep.
I,too can't understand why the Republicans
wanted him as their leader, and I am a Republican, but very unhappy with all of them. I can't think of anyone I can really
support for president right now. I have
never seen such a lackluster group of leaders who are supposed to be passionate
about the issues they want to promote. The Democrats have them beat in the art of
speaking passionately.

Posted by: RedRose | April 27, 2006 4:07 PM | Report abuse


Bill Frist can't win. People say he needs to improve his speaking style, so he works at it and now people say he can't do it. The secret of Bill Frist is that everyone underestimates him. He is intelligent, thoughtful, hard working, and he will become a good speaker, too. I have no doubt that he will be in the thick of a Presidential race for one reason, he is not a politician, and that is what our country needs more than anything. people will support Bill Frist, in fact, in the south many groups have already formed to do just that. George Allen is not the man that everyone thinks he is. John McCain is so far off the chart, that when it comes right down to it Conservatives will not support him, Mitt Romney is a handsome guy with little else going for him. The truth is that Frist has done a pretty good job trying to support the President's agenda and managing a bunch of back stabbing prima donnas.

Posted by: Ginny | April 27, 2006 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Jay Leno was a hoot last night, he was speaking about the offical portrait of Hillary and that it should have been an ICE sculpture instead. Ha, ha, funny funny. Anyway, the US citizens who are involved in selecting a Republican for 2008 now should all be congratulated for caring enough to donate money to fund those exploratory committees to test the waters. I wonder what Jay Leno would do if Hillary became a guest on his program. Has she ever been on his program? I know she was on Letterman, just a question I am sure somebody can answer.

Posted by: Jennifer | April 27, 2006 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Frist better learn how to speak in front of a jury first, when and if they ever investigate his selling of HCA stock, shortly before it was going to tank! I work for an HCA hospital, so maybe he can get a speaking engagement before the prison crowd, I can only hope and pray that him and most of the rest of this administration would be cattle marched into a prison and loced up for good. It won't bring back any of our brave soilders but it would sure give these guys something they have been lacking most of their life, a tast of reality! Thanks Sue F

Posted by: Sue F | April 27, 2006 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Louden Voter is right. Frist doesn't have a chance, because as soon as he announces his candidacy, thousands will take to the web decrying his catkiller history. Anyone who could do what he admits to having done in med school literally has no soul.

By the way, there are some great "Felines against Frist" bumperstickers at

Posted by: Kim | April 27, 2006 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I think the point of Cilleezzza's column was about the efforts of Frist to remake himself into a better speaker and create a more "electable" image to present to the voters. He spoke in Iowa at an event, and people were put to sleep as he droned in a low hum of dribble. The people come to Iowa events to take a look at the numerous candidates for president, to get a LOOK,SEE and check them out. They are willing to pay the $100 and $200 price to get a meal and interact while most of the funds help the Republican party in Iowa.
That said, I think the Dems need to create a better image of electable candidates who seem to be running on the AntiBush platform instead of what the Democrats stand for. That was a key reason Kerry lost, too much droning, too much lack of a plan, and too much windsurfing in flowered pants. Yikes, that was just bad to see!!!

Posted by: Jackie | April 27, 2006 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Why in the world did the Senate Republicans pick Frist to be teir leader? He's as much of an embarrasment as Trent Lott was.

Posted by: Peter L. | April 27, 2006 2:37 PM | Report abuse

"Let's look at the Republicans who speak well and think on their feet without a written speech. Sen. George Allen ..."

Really? You think so? I think George Allen is almost as wooden as Frist. In his appearances on the Sunday morning gasbag shows (which I admit I watch with nauseating regularity) he parrots talking points and shows no ability to go beyond them.

McCain USED to be good, but is falling back into the talking points and is necessarily getting defensive about his changing positions as he tacks to the right for his presidential run.

The one you missed, the Republican that really shines off the cuff, is Senator Hagel.

Posted by: Cal Gal | April 27, 2006 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Let's look at the Republicans who speak well and think on their feet without a written speech. Sen. George Allen, McCain, and Romney and Condi Rice. They are excellent examples of leadership, and they speak well. McCain was on Jay Leno the other night, acted like a smart fellow and told some jokes and laughed along with Leno. We need real people to run for office, not boring people like Al Gore, John Kerry, or Frist.

Posted by: Joe | April 27, 2006 1:37 PM | Report abuse

With Frist its what he says not how he says it.

Sorry Karen, but Bush does not talk a language that most people can understand, unless of course you are in the 6th grade. His delivery is slow and rarely does he connect with the audience. He is much better at the jokes and one-liners that he has been using lately yet, they seem scripted and clearly are intended to have people like him rather than directly answering a question put before him. His C+ grades clearly shine through.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 27, 2006 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Good work, Chris...nice article.

Posted by: Silent Cal | April 27, 2006 1:23 PM | Report abuse

"Catkiller" Frist can work on the presentational arts all he wants, but he will never be president.

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | April 27, 2006 1:05 PM | Report abuse

If being "dedicated to the transcendence of the presentational arts" means anything at all (a moot point), it means dedication to getting past the presentational arts to something higher and purer. Money, perhaps?

"I'm tired of Love; I'm still more tired of Rhyme; / But Money gives me pleasure all the time"--Hilaire Belloc.

Posted by: Kakuzan | April 27, 2006 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Senator Frist, your dull boring speeches on the Senate floor is a key reason you have tanked in national polls down to 1%. You have name recognition, and the Republican activists know who you are, but they are not supporting you.

Frist would need a total "PERSONALITY" transplant to become a dynamic speaker, instead of a droning speech maker. It is the same factor which dragged down Senator Bob Dole in 1996. Normal everday people do not speak the "SENTORITIS" language.

Remember Kerry? He said "who amongst us....", and totally off in speaking like a man who can connect to people. President Bush might mis-speak, but he talks a language most people can understand.

Unless Frist leaves the Senate and become a normal guy, he is doomed in his dream to become our next president. VP maybe is a possible hope, but not president.

Posted by: Karen | April 27, 2006 1:00 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company