According to presidential aides, President Barack Obama will close the office of political affairs at the White House in preparation for the establishment of his reelection headquarters, which will open its doors in Chicago by late March. President Obama’s reelection headquarters will focus on building a national fund-raising and grass-roots operation to rival his first campaign, and the reelection campaign will feature some old faces in some new places:
Jim Messina, a deputy White House chief of staff who has overseen operations in the West Wing and acted as a troubleshooter for the president, will manage the campaign. Mr. Messina has started a search for office space in downtown Chicago, spoken with major fund-raisers this week and begun trying to win over any top supporters who have grown disillusioned with Mr. Obama.
“He will be the president of the United States,” Mr. Messina said in an interview, “and we’ll be building this grass-roots campaign, waiting to get an opponent and doing things you’ve got to do.”
In addition to Mr. Messina, aides said, the top leadership team of the re-election bid will include two deputy campaign managers: Julianna Smoot, the White House social secretary who was the finance director of the 2008 campaign, and Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, executive director of the Democratic National Committee, who directed the swing-state operation in 2008.
The White House political director, Patrick Gaspard, will take over the day-to-day duties of running the Democratic National Committee, with Tim Kaine, the former Virginia governor, still serving as general chairman.
The decision to locate President Obama’s reelection campaign headquarters in Chicago rather than Washington D.C. or a suburb of Washington D.C. is a first for a modern day presidential reelection campaign, but I see that decision – coupled with the decision to close the White House office of political affairs – as being positives for Obama’s reelection campaign, ensuring the reelection campaign’s message isn’t muddled.