A Look at the Hillary Clinton’s Inner Circle, Expected names and some Surprises

 For a quarter-century, Clintonology has been all about figuring out who’s up and who’s down, who’s part of the inner circle, and who’s been left out in the cold.

As Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign gets under way, a document obtained by Bloomberg offers a detailed accounting of who’s at the top of the heap.

The document, a draft memo from campaign manager Robby Mook dated April 21, includes lists of staffers who make up the initial roster of a daily 9 a.m. conference call for senior aides and a thrice-weekly 8 a.m. strategy session. A top campaign official, who confirmed the names on the lists, says that as the operation has ramped up, the strategy calls have taken place regularly, while the senior staff call has been more sporadic.

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 While the lists reflect the core participants, other advisers have at times been included. Aides expect the makeup of both calls to shift over time. Still, the document offers insight into Clinton’s starting lineup as she embarks on her second presidential journey–a snapshot of the high command as her campaign launches.

Many of the names aren’t surprises, such as those of campaign chairman John Podesta, finance director Dennis Cheng, and communications director Jennifer Palmieri. But there are a few unexpected entries, including longtime Democratic strategist Charlie Baker, whose hiring as the campaign’s chief administrative officer was revealed just last week.

Political director Amanda Renteria isn’t on either list, though the campaign official said she is included on the daily 9 a.m. call.

Notable absences from the lists include chief financial officer Gary Gensler, though another Clinton aide noted that Gensler’s department is represented on the call.  

The document lists 17 senior staffers invited to the 9 a.m. call. They include eight veterans of Clinton’s 2008 campaign, most of whom are longtime loyalists who have served Clinton in several roles, such as vice chair Huma Abedin, policy adviser Jake Sullivan, and digital director Katie Dowd. Mook and his top aide on field organization, Marlon Marshall, are also Clinton 2008 alumni.

No one who played a high-level strategic role in Clinton’s previous campaign is routinely included in the daily conversation—a reflection of the campaign’s insistence that it will not repeat the mistakes of 2008. That is a departure from most second-time candidates for the White House, who tend to assemble teams with more continuity.

Eight people who have worked for President Barack Obama are listed as participants on the campaign’s 13-person strategy call. That includes a core of five strategists and pollsters who worked for both Obama presidential campaigns: John Anzalone, Joel Benenson, David Binder, and Jim Margolis, plus Teddy Goff on the digital side.

Three more people on the strategy call–Podesta, Palmieri, and deputy communications director Kristina Schake–came from the Obama White House and never have worked full time for Hillary Clinton, though the first two also worked in Bill Clinton’s administration, and Podesta has been a political and policy associate of both Clintons for decades.

Aside from Abedin, the sole senior political aide from Clinton’s 2008 campaign on the lists is ad maker and communications adviser Mandy Grunwald, who is a leading voice on the strategy calls.

Three mid-level aides from 2008 are included in the strategy group: Mook, speechwriter Dan Schwerin, and research director Tony Carrk, a senior researcher for the 2008 campaign.

Just six of the 17 people on the senior staff call list are women. The strategy call list is even more male-dominated, with just three women named: Grunwald, Palmieri, and Schake.

Both calls involve staff from across the campaign’s functions, including a few outside consultants such as Goff and campaign finance lawyer Marc Elias. Palmieri and her deputy, Schake, are on both call lists, and the senior staff call list includes three tech advisers: Goff, chief technology officer Stephanie Hannon, and Dowd.

One of the biggest voices on the management call is Baker, a longtime and well-respected player in Democratic presidential politics. His firm, Dewey Square Group, includes three veteran Clinton political associates: Michael Whouley, Jill Alper, and Minyon Moore. Some in Hillary Clinton’s orbit talked at one point about Baker as a potential campaign adviser for 2016.

Sullivan, a longtime Clinton foreign policy aide, is on the senior staff call list on behalf of the policy team. Two other policy advisers, Maya Harris and Ann O’Leary, weren’t included on the list, which the campaign aide said is because they were not yet working on the campaign on a full-time basis.

Schwerin has worked for Clinton since 2005 and was on her Senate press team during the 2008 race. He worked in Clinton’s personal office in the State Department and helped her write her 2014 memoir, Hard Choices. He also led her speechwriting team during her two post-State years of delivering paid speeches.

One previously unreported hire is Alex Hornbrook, formerly Vice President Joe Biden’s director of scheduling, who is also considered part of the senior staff, according to the memo.

Among those who are not listed as part of the calls are Maggie Williams, Cheryl Mills, and Philippe Reines, three longtime associates of Clinton who played major roles in her 2008 campaign. 

Of course, nothing is ever final in Clinton World,  where old hands have a way of coming back. But these initial lists demonstrate as clearly as anything else just how different Clinton 2016 is from Clinton 2008.

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