The new aides, all people of color, are part of a broader strategy of engaging core constituencies not just “through one lens but through every aspect of the campaign,” said Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon.
“We have to put our money where our mouth is, right? And we’re doing that by building up the staff, building up the teams and putting the resources behind programming,” O’Malley Dillon said in a telephone interview.
The new aides will be part of the communications team and will also work with the campaign’s coalitions department, which is an initiative modeled on a unit in the Obama 2012 campaign that was called “Operation Vote.” O’Malley Dillion served as deputy campaign manager for President Barack Obama.
In addition to engaging with the news media, the new aides will work with surrogates to boost the campaign’s outreach to diverse communities.
“The strategy is to deploy these folks as much as we possibly can and be really creative about how we’re reaching out to people and creating culturally competent and appropriate content for different parts of the country — both in English and in Spanish,” said Tobar, speaking of surrogates. “That, in addition to your traditional press calls and your one-on-one with reporters and interviews.”
Tobar said the campaign will also bring on a women’s media director at some point.
In late June, the Biden campaign for the first time released data on the campaign's diversity. Thirty-five percent of Biden’s operation were people of color, and just over half were women, according to the figures provided under public prodding.
Before that release, the campaign faced concerns from Democrats about its diversity, and the numbers received tepid reviews. O’Malley Dillon said the campaign probably will share more numbers as it hires up into the summer and increases diversity.
“This is just such a huge priority for the campaign itself. I think we feel like we’ve made some real progress, we feel good about where we are, but it’s honestly never going to be good enough,” she said. “And we want to continue to grow those numbers and increase across the board.”
During the primary, Biden’s campaign drew criticism from some Latino organizations and activists who argued that it did not do enough outreach. Hispanic leaders have also raised concerns about Obama’s deportations of some 3 million undocumented immigrants. Biden served as Obama’s vice president.
Biden has acknowledged the problems with that policy. He has vowed to send Congress legislation on his first day in office to open a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. “I already have a bill written,” he said recently. His campaign declined to provide further information or any draft text, beyond an immigration outline it previously released.
The former vice president was powered to the nomination by strong support from African American voters. But some feel he has work to do, particularly with younger black voters. Some black activists have called on Biden to take a harder line against law enforcement in the wake of recent killings of unarmed black people. Others have suggested he commit to reparations.
Biden’s campaign has taken steps to improve its outreach to black and Latino voters, whose support could be critical in battleground states, and plans to do more, aides said. As part of the campaign's first major general election advertising buy, the campaign announced a six-
figure investment in African American print, radio and digital programming in six battleground states. It also said it would air English and Spanish-language spots in Florida and Arizona.
“Through my time in this campaign, which is fairly short, I have not seen Kanye’s name mentioned once in an email. I have not seen Kanye’s name mentioned in a briefing or any of our conversations that we’re having about the climate of what’s happening right now,” said Smith, when asked whether the prospect of a West run is concerning and if the campaign has thought about it.
A Biden campaign official said the team is always focused on engaging the voters it wants to win over and will be paying attention to potential candidates in the race. When it comes to West, it is too early tell what will happen or develop in the race, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid.