Matthew Bartlett, the man with the best hair in G.O.P. political consulting, was born and raised in New Hampshire. He’s been involved in politics since he worked for Bono’s One campaign, back in 2008, before steadily undergoing Republican conversion therapy: he started by working for Jon Huntsman’s presidential, in 2012, and then for New Hampshire senator Kelly Ayotte from 2013 until January 2017, when she lost by 1,000 votes and Donald Trump won the presidency.
During the Trump administration, he became an appointee at the State Department, where he worked for the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief, reauthorized the Global HIV/AIDS Program, became a communications director for an entire bureau, and traveled the world—including a stint in Burma. An ironic twist, because around a decade earlier he had joined U2 on stage at a concert in D.C. and held up a picture praising Aung San Suu Kyi. “Flash forward a few years and we’re certainly keeping an arms distance away from her, after winning a Nobel Peace Prize and then being accused of enabling genocide,” he told me. “I guess you realize there are no angels and be careful who you glorify.”
So how did this guy end up working for Trump? He said it was because he won the presidency as an outsider, and there was a true opportunity to serve his country, especially at a program like PEPFAR, which he called “the greatest honor of my life.” They were able to reauthorize that program through a Republican House and Senate and get it signed by President Trump, something even Vox gave him credit for, with the headline “Trump Signed a Good Law this Week. Yes, really.” But then he resigned on January 6, 2021.