President Obama‘s reelection campaign has kicked off: Virtually all White House political functions will be transferred to the Democratic National Committee and to the campaign itself, which will be run by Jim Messina, the president’s deputy chief of staff, and operate out of an as-yet-to-be-determined office building in Chicago.
Among the staff moves confirmed today: White House social secretary Julianna Smoot, one of Obama’s earliest fundraisers, will lead the reelection’s finance effort as a deputy campaign manager.Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, who ran the campaign’s targeting team in the 2008 election and now serves as executive director at the DNC, will oversee field and politics as another deputy manager. White House political director Patrick Gaspard will become the DNC’s executive director, and his shop — eight staff members in total — will be transferred over to the party committee. The moves were first reported by The New York Times.
DNC Chairman Tim Kaine wrote in an e-mail to party members today that Gaspard “understands the importance of grassroots politics and team building. He is someone with whom I have worked closely and I look forward to working with him even more closely at the DNC.”
But first things first.
“They really have to do nothing but raise money this year,” one of Obama’s top fundraisers said today. The fundraiser, who has spoken with Messina this week, said that Obama intends to raise at least as much money as he did for the 2008 general election, and intends to secure commitments from donors to raise at least $250 million by the beginning of 2012.
Officials have also been sending quiet signals that they would not object to the formation of an independent expenditure group because they fear that Republicans will exploit campaign finance laws to attack the president from outside the boundaries of a formal campaign. That’s a change from 2008, when David Plouffe froze out interest groups in order to concentrate money and messaging in the campaign.