Organizing For America, the remnant of the reelection campaign, has assiduously pored over its fundraising and volunteer databases and will spend months building volunteer corps for targeted states.
Formally, no one will be able to work on the president's campaign until he files documents with the Federal Election Commission. That's scheduled for April, and will probably not be accompanied by any pomp and circumstance.
Like President George W. Bush but unlike President Bill Clinton, Obama's campaign reelection team will be made up of familiar faces. The fundamental authors of the president's narrative, strategy, and world view remain the same: Messina, Plouffe, David Axelrod, Robert Gibbs, and Valerie Jarrett. They'll change geography, they'll change jobs, they'll change titles -- but they remain in charge.
The contrast with Clinton is dramatic. Preparing for 1996, Clinton ousted from his inner circle the team that brought him to the White House: pollster Stan Greenberg, advertising consultant Mandy Grunwald, and campaign strategists James Carville and Paul Begala.
George W. Bush promoted his political director, Ken Mehlman, to campaign manager, and Karl Rove oversaw daily morning conference calls between the campaign and a series of White House officials.
For Obama's effort, Plouffe will be the sole conduit between the DNC, the campaign, and the White House -- letting the rest of the executive office of the president do its thing.
Although senior advisers discussed the changes with The New York Times, two declined to extrapolate on the record, citing their desire to communicate with major Democratic donors, for whom the Times remains the paper of record.
"It's time to launch this thing," a top political aide said. "We can't do it from the White House." Some donors had gotten nervous about the lack of direct communication about the reelection effort, and the White House decided to make public Messina's efforts now to reassure them.
A final wave of personnel announcements are expected soon from the White House. They will include an expansion of the president's Office of Cabinet Affairs, which the president wants done in order to increase the involvement of his Cabinet in governing. That office had declined in importance under recent presidents but was more powerful in the 1980s under President Reagan.
As for a theme, Kaine may have given a preview in his e-mail: "The important achievements of the year-end congressional session give us hope that we can continue to move America forward. We can also be proud that our president responded to the terrible tragedy in Arizona in a way that comforted those directly affected by the tragedy and inspired the nation with his challenge that we all seek to fulfill the expectations of Christina Taylor Green, the remarkable 9-year old aspiring public servant who died waiting to meet her congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords."
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