WASHINGTON – Sen. Marco Rubio has hired the CEO of Heritage Action for America, Mike Needham, as his new chief of staff.
"Mike brings a wealth of policy, political and management experience that will greatly complement our office's mission of serving the people of Florida and leading the effort to modernize the conservative movement in the 21st century. Mike understands and shares these goals, and I look forward to his contributions," the Florida Republican said.
At Heritage Action, Needham oversaw efforts to that sought to press Republicans into holding a conservative line on an array of issues. He was previously at the Heritage Foundation.
Needham was involved in drama over the ouster of Heritage's Jim DeMint, one of the earliest backers of Rubio's 2010 Senate campaign. Rubio once called DeMint his "best friend" besides his wife.
Needham, 31 and a native New Yorker, co-wrote the business plan for Heritage Action while at Stanford business school. The idea was to translate the foundation's research and donor base into grass roots political power. Heritage Action has mobilized the network of activists to counter traditional lobbyists.
"It's very easy in an Internet age to get facts and information out to millions of people so they actually feel capable and informed enough to ask tough questions of their members of Congress," Needham said. "I think many people in Washington prefer the old world where the two political parties basically have a monopoly on the dispersion of ideas. We're not going back to it."