Perino will make her debut as a presidential debate moderator on Wednesday, when she co-moderates the second Republican primary debate of the 2024 election cycle
Fox News' Dana Perino will make her debut as a presidential debate moderator on Wednesday when she co-moderates the election cycle's second Republican primary debate.
Perino, 51, served as White House press secretary for President George W. Bush from 2007 to 2009. She became a political commentator on Fox News after leaving the White House and is a regular co-host on the talk show The Five. She also co-anchors America’s Newsroom and recently launched a signature podcast on FOX News Audio, Perino on Politics.
On Wednesday, she'll moderate the 2024 GOP presidential debate alongside Fox News' Stuart Varney and UNIVISION’s Ilia Calderón.
Below, five things to know about Perino.
She Grew Up on a Ranch
Perino grew up in Colorado and Wyoming on a horse ranch, and her family still lives in the Rockies.
In an earlier interview with The Tennessean, Perino recounted her childhood memories of waking up at 4 a.m. to help her grandfather move cattle.
“It was so cold you could see your breath,” Perino told the outlet. “I remember my grandfather telling me, ‘This is the most beautiful country in the world.’"
She Got Her Start in Media as a Country Music DJ
One of Perino's first media jobs was in college, when she worked as a country music radio DJ for KCCY 96.9 FM in Colorado Springs.
Among her memories from that first job was that she had to play Billy Ray Cyrus’ Achy Breaky Heart every hour, on the hour, when it first debuted, according to The Tennessean.
She Met Her Husband When They Were Seatmates on a Flight
Perino met her future husband, English-born Peter McMahon, in August 1997. The two were seated next to one another on a flight to London. They've now been married for more than 20 years.
In a joint interview with Yahoo in 2018, the couple opened up about their meet-cute.
“I was walking down the jetway behind this cute little blonde with her ponytail swinging, and I thought, I hope I sit beside her,” McMahon said.
Perino echoed the sentiment, telling the outlet her initial thoughts of McMahon were, “Oh, he’s cute, and he’s not wearing a wedding ring, and he has a British accent."
Ten days after their initial meeting, McMahon sent Perino an email, sparking their eventual romance.
She Famously Got a Black Eye While Working as White House Press Secretary
Perino was the press secretary for Bush Jr. during the infamous shoe-throwing incident, in which the president ducked when a protester threw a shoe at him during a press conference in Iraq. As security deflected the shoe from the president, they sent the microphone flying — directly (and unintentionally) at Perino, who as a result had a black eye during her final weeks in the position.
Speaking to NPR in a 2015 interview, Perino recounted the incident, saying, "It was obviously extremely painful."
"I ended up being able to get out of the room because the president was determined to finish that press conference," she said. "He wasn't going to let the shoe-thrower change that. So I make it out of the room, and he had told the doctor who had checked on him quickly, 'Go find Dana. She's crying but I don't know what happened.'"
She continued: "So he came to find me later, and he put his arm around me ... And he said, 'What happened? I saw you crying, but I thought it was just because the guy threw a shoe at me.' And I said, 'Well, sir, I adore you, but I grew up in Wyoming and I'm a little tougher than that.'"
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She's a Big Dog Lover
Perino's Hungarian vizsla Jasper made his mark on viewers when he was often seen on Fox News. The dog was even the subject of a book, Let Me Tell You About Jasper, How My Best Friend Became America’s Dog.
She and her husband lost Jasper unexpectedly in 2021 to a rare, quickly-spreading cancer. Following his death, Perino took to Fox News to share her grief, writing, "Jasper was only nine-years-old when we lost him. We thought we had a few more years to love on him and to share him with you. A few more years to talk about him on air," she wrote, adding: "Alas, he went to heaven long before we expected. We have missed him so much. Jasper was a legend. One heck of a dog. Thanks to all of you for loving him as we did."
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