George Eli Birnbaum (born 1970) is an American international political consultant. He was born in Los Angeles, California and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He has worked on dozens of United States Congressional and Senatorial races. In 1998 he moved to Israel to serve as a consultant to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, became his chief of staff, and afterwards formed a partnership with political consultant Arthur Finkelstein. His work includes polling, strategy, paid media and grassroots coalition building, developing and implementing campaign strategies. In his career George Birnbaum has worked on campaigns on five continents and has helped elect over 15 presidents and prime ministers worldwide.
Childhood and education
George Birnbaum was born in Los Angeles to Jewish immigrant parents. His father was an Auschwitz survivor and three of his grandparents were also Holocaust survivors. When Birnbaum was four his family moved to Atlanta, where he attended elementary and high school. He attended the Florida Institute of Technology where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Space Sciences.
After having founded his university's chapter of College Republicans and volunteering on several Congressional campaigns, Birnbaum took his first paid position in a political campaign in 1992, signing onto Ohio Republican Congressman Bob McEwen’s reelection campaign. In the years following, he worked on more congressional races, including campaigns in North Carolina, Florida and Virginia.
During the 1996 cycle, Birnbaum served as the deputy political director and director of survey research under National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Alfonse D'Amato. Birnbaum worked on two dozen races in an election where Republicans broke the historical pattern and won two seats in the U.S. Senate. Following the 1996 cycle, Birnbaum managed Charlie Crist’s 1998 unsuccessful challenger campaign against incumbent Senator Bob Graham in Florida, a race that is considered pivotal in launching Crist's statewide career and led to his eventual election as Governor of Florida.
It was after the 1998 cycle that Birnbaum consulted for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign. Birnbaum served as Netanyahu’s chief of staff, a position he held for a year and a half.
After that, Birnbaum took a hiatus from political work, spending the next two years concentrating on international philanthropy and charitable work. In 2003 he went into partnership with American conservative political consultant Arthur Finkelstein.
Since then, Birnbaum has consulted and managed campaigns throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South America, including the campaigns of Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon, Chancellor of Austria Alfred Gusenbauer, Prime Minister of Bulgaria Sergei Stanishev, Prime Minister of Romania Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu, Prime Minister of Kosovo Hashim Thaçi, and President of Serbia Boris Tadic. In 2008, he worked for the campaign of Nir Barkat for mayor of Jerusalem, and in 2009 helped Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party become the third-largest party in Israel.
In 2010 Birnbaum helped with the campaign of Prime Minister Petr Nečas in the Czech Republic at a time when the free-market political party ODS was on the verge of losing. Also in 2010 he helped the Fidesz party win a 60 percent majority in the Hungarian parliament. In 2014 he worked again for Fidesz leader and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán with a two-thirds majority of seats in Hungary's National Assembly.
In 2015, US presidential candidate Ben Carson asked Birnbaum to serve as his chief policy advisor for Israel and the Middle East during the 2016 primaries. In addition to those duties, Birnbaum also co-chaired debate preparation for Carson as well as help develop communications for the campaign.
Most recently, in July 2017, Birnbaum became a partner at Avenue Strategies, a full-service government affairs and political consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. Its partners include Barry Bennett and Ed Brookover, both of whom Birnbaum met while working on the Carson presidential campaign.
- "U.S. pushing Netanyahu to accept demands for peace talks". The Washington Post.
- Ward, Olivia (March 10, 2010). "Washington 'committed' to ensuring Israel secure". The Toronto Star.
- "Pushing right-wing American politics – in Israel". Salon.[dead link]
- "Mofaz learns campaign lessons from US experts". The Jerusalem Post.[dead link]
- Kampeas, Ron (January 27, 2016). "Ahead of Iowa caucus: A Jewish guide to the candidates"". The Times of Israel.
- "Avenue adds former Netanyahu adviser". Politico. June 30, 2017. Retrieved July 12, 2017.