Iowa Alumni Magazine | March 2017 | People

Presidential Pen

By Josh O'Leary

Tyler Lechtenberg, 03BA, says the feeling was as exhilarating as it was sobering: getting an early version of a speech back from President Barack Obama, a gifted orator, and seeing the “maze of insertions and deletions.”

“No matter how much we pour ourselves into a draft, whether it’s a video for a few dozen people or an address to the nation, there’s always a higher level,” Lechtenberg (pictured at right in the Oval Office) wrote in a recent essay on, as he and fellow Obama speechwriters reflected on the end of their time in Washington. “There’s always a deeper message or a more poetic way to express it. And he always seems to capture it.”

Like Obama, January marked the end of Lechtenberg’s eight years in the White House, where he served as a senior presidential speechwriter since 2010. A former Daily Iowan reporter who worked as a field director for the Obama campaign in Iowa, he joined the White House staff after the 2008 election.