A former speechwriter for George H.W. Bush, Jennifer Grossman talks about riding the waves of Washington to Malibu.
By Ben Marcus / Special to The Malibu Times
Malibu resident Jennifer Grossman took the podium last Wednesday at the Malibu chapter of the California Federation of Republican Women meeting at the Sunset Restaurant in a red Versace suit. She acknowledged Alice Starr, wife of Kenneth Starr, former White House prosecutor, now dean of Pepperdine University’s School of Law, as a friend who had also made the transition from Washington D.C. to Malibu.
Grossman, known as JAG to close friends, began her talk by commiserating on how “discouraging” it can be to be a Republican in Malibu, much less California.
“Malibu reminds me very much of growing up in Newton, Massachusetts, where Republicans were regarded as stupid or evil-that’s a little intolerant and naive, as I learned after working with many idealistic intellectual conservatives.”
And then she described a journey that began in New Delhi, India and ended in Malibu by way of Harvard, the White House and corporate America.
Grossman explained how she became drawn to the Republican Party while working toward a degree in government from Harvard.
“I fell in with a group of intellectuals who were writing for The American Spectator and National Review. As time went on, I met these incredible people-especially women-involved in the conservative movement who were working on health care reform and tax reform, and it opened my mind.”
Moving to Washington, Grossman took a job as researcher in the White House under the administration of former President George H.W. Bush, which was “more bureaucratic than the current administration,” she said. She threw herself into her job, working relentlessly, earning a promotion from researcher to speechwriter and finished out the term.
The “woman who made a sharp left” (Time magazine, Al Franken).
“That is when Arianna was a conservative and one of our big issues was school choice,” Grossman said. “We worked on that a little bit and that led to me taking a job as communications director for Michael Huffington’s 1996 campaign for the U.S. Senate,” in which he lost to Dianne Feinstein.
“A disaster,” Grossman said of the campaign. “A friend said it was like getting punched in the face, every day, and it sure was.”
After the Huffington campaign, Grossman wrote speeches for corporations, worked for the Libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute, and has made guest appearances as a political commentator on such shows as “Larry King Live,” “The O’Reilly Factor,” the “Today Show” and “Politically Incorrect” she eventually headed West, landing in Malibu.
Grossman started surfing in 2003, and it was her attraction to the ocean and her love of the small town flavor of Malibu that led to a major decision when the White House of Bush junior called.
“They wanted me back as a speechwriter focusing on economic issues and it was so tempting,” Grossman said. “I put my house on the market, but in the end I decided against it. I didn’t want to leave my Malibu, and there aren’t any waves in Washington-at least not the kind I want to ride anymore.”
Grossman now works in the Valley as vice president and director of Dole Nutrition Institute, where she writes a bimonthly nutrition newsletter, as well as articles and videos fir the company’s Food for Thought magazine.
She has maintained the work ethic that advanced her in the White House. Every morning she is up at 4:30 a.m., crafting a novel called “Marian’s Turn: Robin Hood Reconsidered,” which is a retelling of the Robin Hood legend from the perspective of Maid Marian. On weekends, Grossman is a regular at Malibu, surfing Third Point on her 8-foot McTavish longboard, which is all red.
“I love surfing Malibu and I’m glad they [the waves] are all rights, because I have trouble going left, for some