Hillary Clinton 2016 might look a lot like Barack Obama 2012

July 29, 2013

President Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton are having lunch today at the White House.


Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. AFP/Getty Images.

It's easy to overanalyze What It All Means -- given that Obama and Clinton are not only the two most famous politicians in the country but also have, well, a past.  Once rivals for the top office, they became allies of a sort with Clinton serving as Obama's top diplomat.

But, Clinton isn't announcing for president anytime soon (although we do believe she will run) and Obama isn't endorsing anyone for president anytime soon (and probably won't ever).

Sometimes a lunch is just a lunch.

That said, the lunch that launched 1,000 "will she" and "will he" stories does give us a chance to write about something that has intrigued us of late: The idea that Clinton may well be the heir to a vast majority (or at least a majority) of the campaign talent that elected and then reelected Obama.

Earlier this month, Jeremy Bird, the national field director for Obama's reelection race, and Mitch Stewart, who ran the 10 swing state operation for the president, signed on to "Ready for Hillary," the super PAC that is functioning as a campaign-in-waiting for Clinton should she decide to run.

While the Bird/Stewart hires drew attention when they were announced, it's hard to overestimate what the duo's decision to work for a Clinton vehicle (and said vehicle's willingness to have them) means going forward.

The single most valuable commodity in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is the staff talent that Obama cultivated during his two presidential campaigns. While some of the top names -- David Plouffe, David Axelrod, Jim Messina, Dan Pfeiffer etc. -- are Obama-ites through and through and won't likely ever work on another presidential campaign, there is a whole layer of staff talent beneath them that is itching to bring what they learned in 2008 and/or 2012 to bear on another campaign. Bird and Stewart are at, or near, the top of that list -- due in no small part to their expertise in building a field operation, a major weak spot of Clinton's 2008 campaign.

Getting Bird and Stewart does not, of course, mean that the Obama campaign team -- such as it is once some of the more senior people peel off to make megabucks in the private sector -- will move en masse to Clinton if she runs in 2016. But, it does create at least the possibility that Clinton might have the lion's share of those people in 2016, as opposed to their scattering to a variety of candidates in the race.

This may well be a moot point -- under two scenarios. In the first, Clinton doesn't run, leaving the Birds and Stewarts of the world in search of another candidate. In the second, she does run and, in so doing, drives all of the other serious challengers (Joe Biden and so on) out of the race. Under the latter scenario, every ambitious staffer -- those tied to Obama and those not -- has no choice but to sign on with Clinton.

Still, in these early days of the 2016 presidential race, staff hires are critical. Keep an eye on any other Obama campaign talent starts moving toward Clinton.

Fixbits: 

More bad news for Anthony Weiner: His campaign manager quit.

And Weiner paid a private eye to investigate his initial claim in 2011 that his Twitter account had been hacked, when he knew it was not.

Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell spent nearly $9,800 on clothes with money from Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell's PAC.

Glenn Greenwald said low-level NSA staff and contractors have access to "invasive" surveillance.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) says there won't be a government shutdown.

No federal bailout for Detroit, suggested Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) likened Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to George McGovern.

Add Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to the list of Democrats who say San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D) should resign.

The Madison Project will endorse businessman Matt Bevin against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

Must-reads:

"Obama Says Income Gap Is Fraying U.S. Social Fabric" -- Jackie Calmes and Michael D. Shear, New York Times

 "How the Obama campaign won the race for voter data" -- Dan Balz, Washington Post

"After years of obscure warnings, Wyden gets privacy debate in wake of NSA revelations" -- David A. Farenthold, Washington Post

Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Politics
Next Story
Chris Cillizza · July 28, 2013