Politics

03.12.14

Clinton’s Iowa Plan: Use Obama to Win

The ‘Ready For Hillary’ group is wooing as many former active Obama supporters as possible in Iowa, and using a wealth of information generated more than six years ago to do so.

Ready For Hillary, the pro-Hillary Clinton PAC, appears to be using internal information from Barack Obama’s 2008 caucus campaign to organize in Iowa.

Last week, Ready For Hillary tried to organize a presence in all 99 counties in advance of the Iowa Democratic Party’s county conventions. A field coordinator for the PAC sent an email to two former Obama interns in Iowa from 2007, asking them to volunteer. The twist is those ex-Obama interns never gave their email addresses to Ready for Hillary or any other pro-Clinton group, they say. Further, the information directed them to the county where they had interned for Obama in 2007, not the county where they actually lived at the time.

Seth Bringman, a spokesman for Ready For Hillary, told The Daily Beast that as part of its organizing efforts “Ready For Hillary reached out to the county caucus chairs for Hillary and the county caucus chairs for Barack Obama, both from the voter file as well as being connected and introduced to people across the state.” The three former Obama supporters now backing Clinton, whom Bringman said had helped to connect people from the Obama campaign in 2008 with Ready For Hillary, were Tyler Olson, a state representative, Jackie Norris, Obama’s 2008 state director and Mitch Stewart, Obama’s 2008 Iowa field director who now runs the prominent consulting group 270 Strategies after guiding the Obama re-election campaign.

When asked how Ready for Hillary got the personal email addresses of the former Obama interns, spokesman Seth Bringman said his group got information from the Iowa voter file, the list of Obama’s former county caucus chairs, and three former Obama staffers and supporters who worked for Obama and now support Hillary.

But, as The Daily Beast confirmed, the email addresses are not listed in the Iowa voter file, nor were they ever given to Ready For Hillary or any other political organization affiliated with Hillary Clinton. What’s more, neither intern was a county caucus chair for Obama in 2008. (In fact, one was in South America on caucus night and was too young to participate regardless). Neither had even heard of Olson, Norris or Stewart, let alone interacted with them. Plus, while the two had jointly helped man a field office for months, they had fallen out of touch since. Their Obama work was the only thing linking them together, let alone to an Iowa county where neither had ever lived.

“Clinton’s tactics preempt other potential Democratic candidates, like Vice President Joe Biden, from being able to build on Obama’s fabled Iowa organization.”

It’s unclear how Ready For Hillary got this information, but it seems likely, based on The Daily Beast’s reporting, that it originated through a list generated by the 2008 Obama campaign, as opposed to the voter file or personal contacts.

With its deep connections to key players like Norris and Stewart on Obama’s first presidential campaign, it is clear Ready For Hillary is trying to woo as many former active Obama supporters as possible and using a wealth of information generated more than six years ago to do so. This not only means that a potential 2016 campaign by Clinton will be that much stronger, but preempts other potential Democratic candidates, like Vice President Joe Biden, from being able to build on Obama’s fabled Iowa organization. This strategy is already paying dividends. For instance, while Bringman admitted that his group fell short of their 99 county goal last Saturday, they were still able to deploy 250 volunteers in an impressive 84 counties across the state. About a third of those volunteers were Obama supporters in 2008, he said.

Clinton is still not quite a sure thing to get the Democratic nomination in 2016 but, if she’s able to use internal organizing information from Obama’s campaign in 2008 as well as her own, it makes her path in Iowa and on to the nomination that much easier.