With Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Campaign set to officially kick off this weekend, all indications thus far point toward a very different organization and message compared to 2008.
First, the campaign office based in Brooklyn, puts the organization at ground zero of Hipster Culture, which will allow for appealing to multiple segments of voters in one of the most culturally diverse areas in the United States. Clinton experienced first-hand the momentum surge that propelled President Obama’s insurgency campaign in 2008 fueled by drawing support from young and diverse voters and aided by groundbreaking technological advancements–another strategy that Clinton is utilizing.
The choice of 35-year-old Robby Mook as campaign manager also sends a clear signal that Clinton will be doing literally everything differently than the last go round. Mook has been a dedicated, innovative and smart party operative who has risen through the ranks in boot-strap style with the focused ambition to be a top campaign manager.
Mook, for his part, got a sense of what it will be like to manage the Clintonworld cast of characters when he ran the campaign of Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of Bill and Hillary who was elected governor of Virginia in 2013. McAuliffe’s first run for governor, in 2009, was a disaster. He lost the Democratic nomination by 23 points. Four years later, with Mook at the helm, McAuliffe’s campaign was so focused and disciplined it caught some of the candidate’s own friends by surprise. One senior McAuliffe aide says he couldn’t recall a single leak from a campaign surrogate.
Hillary Clinton took note of Mook’s work on the McAuliffe campaign. She wants desperately to avoid the mistakes of her last race and run a low-drama campaign. Knowing this, advisers and former aides say, it’s not surprising she chose Mook. “He’s cut from a very different cloth from the bold, brash campaign managers that we hear about so often,” says pollster Geoff Garin, who worked with Mook on McAuliffe’s 2013 run. “He does not seek out the spotlight and in fact does everything he can to avoid it.”
The irony is that most of the Clinton campaign operatives will have been quite young when Bill Clinton was President and now, as a Grandmother, Hillary will be trying to be more personable and socially engaging than she has ever previously been in her various incarnations as First Lady, Senator and finally Secretary of State.
One of the main challenges has recently been articulated by her husband, who saw his party’s attempt to elect his successor fail in 2000:
“It’s hard for any party to hang on to the White House for 12 years, and it’s a long road,” Bill Clinton said in an interview with Town & Country magazine. “A thousand things could happen.”
For Mook, the challenge is not just historical trends but also a three-decade plus laundry list of opposition research the GOP has sitting on a shelf and an ever growing orbit of allies and sycophants:
[Mother Jones][USA Today][New York Times]
The uproar over Mrs. Clinton’s use of personal email as secretary of state, which shielded her correspondence from public records requests, has presented the first media firestorm in her pursuit of the White House. But it has also revealed the stark generational divide that confronts her budding 2016 campaign.
Over more than two decades in national politics, the Clintons have amassed an army of well-meaning defenders who will bring to 2016 old battle wounds and axes to grind that date back to the White House and Arkansas — perhaps not the ideal message in a presumptive campaign that seeks to reintroduce the 67-year-old Mrs. Clinton as a fresh, forward-looking candidate.
It falls largely on Mr. Mook, and the band of young operatives he has assembled (called the Mook Mafia), to move the grievance-laden Clinton machine into the modern political age. The success of Mrs. Clinton’s campaign will rest in part on whether this younger generation of earnest, data- and social-media-savvy operatives can prevail.