White House officials tell ABC News that President Obama is closing the political office of the White House as he re-tools and prepares for the 2012 re-election campaign.
These changes include:
- Having his 2012 re-election HQ in Chicago (a search for office space in downtown Chi-town has begun);
- Filing papers with the Federal Election Commission to formally declare his candidacy in March or so;
- Assigning soon-to-be-leaving White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina to be campaign manager;
- Appointing as deputy campaign managers current White House social secretary Julianna Smoot (finance director of the 2008 campaign), and executive director of the Democratic National Committee Jennifer O’Malley Dillon who focused on battleground states in 2008. Smoot will focus on finances while Dillon focuses on field operations;
- Moving current White House political director Patrick Gaspard to run the DNC (Tim Kaine will remain chairman) with the DNC assuming the role of the White House political office;
Messina, in addition to looking for office space, has started talking to fundraisers and lining up consultants; outgoing White House senior adviser David Axelrod and outgoing press secretary Robert Gibbs will serve as two of those consultants.
White House senior adviser David Plouffe will be the key liaison between the campaign and the White House.
“There’s not going to be two dueling power centers,” Plouffe told the New York Times, which first reported the news. “The philosophy of this campaign will not be that the White House is somehow running the campaign. The people running the campaign are in charge of the campaign. That’s the way the president wants it. We’ll do it in a coordinated way, but they’re running this thing.”