Erin Callanan Perrine is the director of press communications for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign. She joined the campaign in March 2019 after serving as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s press secretary for two years. Perrine has become a regular figure on cable news as a prominent supporter and defender of the president.
In an interview on Fox Business on October 8, Perrine claimed the Commission on Presidential Debates was biased against Trump and that the organization was filled with “never Trumpers” and “swamp creatures.” She confirmed the campaign planned to hold a rally on October 15 rather than participate in a virtual debate against Joe Biden.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Perrine Said She Was Raised Republican But That Members of Her Own Family Have Made Unkind Remarks to Her For Working for Trump
— Rochester Beacon (@RochesterBeacon) October 9, 2020
Perrine was born and raised in Rochester, New York, where she was exposed early to the world of politics. In a recent interview with the Rochester Beacon, Perrine recalled helping her grandfather, Gary E. Smith, campaign for city court judge by marching in a local parade and decorating T-shirts.
She told the newspaper her grandfather played a major role in helping to shape her personal political preferences. “My grandpa, when he ran for city court judge in 1992, was the last Republican to my knowledge to win election in the city of Rochester.”
Perrine added that spending time with small business owners, specifically those who sold produce at food markets on the weekend, also influenced her political views about the role of government in people’s lives. “Any time the government got in the way of these small business owners, I could see it made it tough for them. So, I’ve always just believed in less government, more freedom.”
The Rochester Beacon also asked Perrine whether she had ever been negatively targeted for her job on the Trump campaign. She admitted that members of her own family did not agree with her decision to work for the president’s campaign:
No one’s come up to me—I think I’m still pretty much under the radar. I’ve received threatening text messages to my personal cell phone, which means that’s probably somebody who’s known me for a while. People have also sent really hateful things over social media. Even some members of my family have said things to me that aren’t kind. Not my sisters or my mom—they’re very much on my team and always 100 percent supportive of me. But, you know, people want to try and make not only me, but anybody who supports this president, feel bad. They want us to feel like we’re not doing right by supporting President Trump, and I just don’t agree with that.
2. Perrine Said an Internship at the 2008 Republican National Convention Reaffirmed Her Desire to Work in Politics
She worked with the “external affairs team” during the Republican National Convention in 2008, which took place in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Perrine told the magazine her job involved helping to manage thousands of volunteers around the city, and that she fell in love with the excitement of it all:
I had the best time! Conventions only come around every four years. This really solidified that for sure I would go into campaigns and politics. The atmosphere of the campaign is what I really enjoy — you have to want to work long hours, and let your job be your life.
Perrine graduated from UCONN in 2010.
3. In Addition to Her Political Experience, Perrine’s Resume Includes Teaching Horseback Riding Lessons
Perrine’s first job out of college took her to Wisconsin, the AP reported. She joined the campaign that was working to unseat the longtime Democratic incumbent, Russ Feingold, and replace him with Republican Ron Johnson. Johnson won the election and is still serving as the senior Senator for Wisconsin.
Perrine did not follow the newly elected senator to Washington, D.C. Instead, she accepted a job back in her home state. She served as the press secretary for the New York State Assembly Republican conference in Albany.
But after about a year, Perrine returned to Wisconsin and the campaign trail. She worked for Rep. Paul Ryan on his congressional re-election campaign as a press secretary. (Politicians in Wisconsin are allowed to run for president or vice president while at the same time run for Congress, the Capital Times reported. If Ryan and Mitt Romney had won the White House in 2012, a special election would have been held to fill his congressional seat).
Perrine’s path to Capitol Hill took a slight detour after the 2012 election. As Perrine explained to the Washington Examiner, she taught horseback riding lessons and worked at a “voter contact firm” in Washington, D.C. for about a year. A horseback riding student, who worked in a Senate office, told her about an opening for an internal communications position with the Senate Republican Conference in 2014. Perrine got the job and it soon morphed into a press secretary position for Senator John Thune of South Dakota.
Perrine said she worked for Thune for about three years before she went to work for Rep. Kevin McCarthy as a national press secretary in 2017.
4. Perrine Lost Her Only Brother to a Drug Overdose in 2016
Eamon Eric Callanan
July 16, 1987 — June 8, 2016
That line in the middle is every day of my brother Eamon’s life on earth. That’s it.
He died four years ago today from an opioid related overdose. pic.twitter.com/krjcWyUCrA
— Erin Perrine (@ErinMPerrine) June 8, 2020
Perrine’s family was rocked in June 2016 when her only brother, Eamon Eric Callanan, passed away from a drug overdose at age 28. Callanan began taking opioid painkillers after injuring his back at work. He transitioned to heroin when he could no longer afford the prescription pills.
Callanan’s personal story was shared on the floor of the House on June 22, 2018. Rep. McCarthy talked about Callanan as the House debated the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which contained measures to support people battling addiction. The measure ultimately passed and became law.
Perrine shared McCarthy’s speech to Facebook and wrote about what hearing her brother’s name on the House floor had meant for her. She tagged her brother’s Facebook account, which had his last name spelled backward, in the post: “I have experienced a lot of incredible things during my four years on Capitol Hill, but today beats them all. My boss, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, gave a speech about the House’s work to combat America’s opioid crisis. In that speech, he shared Eamon Nanallac’s story. I sat on the House floor, heard my brother’s name, saw his face, and cried my eyes out. I miss Eamon every day but hopefully sharing his story and continuing this fight, we can save one family from the grief of loss.”
Perrine honored her brother’s memory on the fourth anniversary of his death.
If you were lucky enough to have met Eamon, hold those memories tight.
If you never met my brother, just know his name. Know he was funny and the greatest brother a person could ever ask for.
I miss him every single day and today like every day since he passed, my heart breaks. pic.twitter.com/meIj5JvK1e
— Erin Perrine (@ErinMPerrine) June 8, 2020
She wrote on Twitter, “If you were lucky enough to have met Eamon, hold those memories tight. If you never met my brother, just know his name. Know he was funny and the greatest brother a person could ever ask for. I miss him every single day and today like every day since he passed, my heart breaks.”
5. Perrine’s Husband, Nicholas Perrine, Worked for the NRA When They Tied the Knot in 2016
Fours year ago today I married my best friend ❤️ I’ve loved every moment being his wife.
I love you, Nick. Happy Anniversary. pic.twitter.com/PoFqW4w0Ds
— Erin Perrine (@ErinMPerrine) July 2, 2020
Perrine met her now-husband on the campaign trail in Wisconsin. She and Nicholas Perrine both worked for Ron Johnson’s 2010 senate campaign. But they didn’t begin dating until 2013, according to Politico. Both had moved to Washington, D.C. by then.
The couple tied the knot on July 2, 2016, according to their wedding registry. The Rochester Beacon reported the ceremony took place at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in downtown D.C. with only a handful of guests. The wedding took place only a few weeks after her brother’s sudden death. Perrine told the newspaper she sewed a piece of Eamon’s shirt into her wedding dress.
Nicholas Perine is a Wisconsin native. Erin Perrine described him as her “favorite Wisconsinite” in a Facebook picture that was snapped at a University of Wisconson football game in November 2016.
At the time of their wedding, Nicholas Perrine was working for the National Rifle Association. Politico reported at the time that he was a “special assistant to the president” of the organization. It’s unclear if he is still working for the NRA.