Obama campaign grassroots organization to be kept alive
November 20th, 2012
11:01 AM ET
1 year ago

Obama campaign grassroots organization to be kept alive

Washington (CNN) – It's one of the biggest questions in the campaign world: What happens to Obama for America?

Tuesday, Jim Messina, chairman of President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, gave some clues.

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Messina said that supporters of the president want the grassroots organization to help Obama pass his agenda in his second term in the White House.

"The one thing I know is that people want to be involved in supporting the president's agenda in the next four years. How that looks is a discussion we need to have with our grassroots," said Messina in a conversation with Politico's Mike Allen at the news outlet's "Playbook Breakfast" in Washington. "We have to figure out what we do next and that's the conversation we're having with our supports now."

But Messina was clear that while OFA will live on in some form, he was equally clear the campaign structure won't be handed over to the next Democratic presidential nominee, saying "this organization was built for people who supported this president."

Messina's comments come two days after he reached out to Obama supporters through the campaign's massive email list, asking for feedback about how OFA can be used in the future to advocate policy during Obama's second term.

The email pointed supporters and activists to an online survey that asks basic database questions-such as age, gender, address, etc-as well as 30 detailed questions about supporters' experiences working with the campaign.

It further solicited input for future prospects for the group, which built unprecedented access to information about voters and had an aggressive push to make contact with them through phone calls and door knocks. At the end of the campaign, Obama's team said they had reached 125 million potential voters using their system of personalized contacts.

Messina said the email to supporters was "part of the discussion we want to have with people, what makes sense."

He suggested that the campaign's touted "Dashboard" social media tool could come in handy during the current negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff, allowing Obama supporters to call Capitol Hill.

"People just spent five years winning two presidential elections together, now they're not just walking away," added Messina.

He also added that it's crucial to keep the nationwide network alive: "You can't run two presidential campaigns from the grassroots and then say we're going to do it from DC. That's not how this is it's going to work."

Messina said he wants to make some decisions on the group's future by January's inaugural.

Four years ago the 2008 Obama campaign's grassroots network was kept alive in a limited fashion, and in January 2009 it was transformed into Organizing for America and folded into the Democratic National Committee. The 2012 Obama for America re-election campaign was launched in April 2011.

Messina said this time the campaign won't immediately turn over the grassroots operation to the DNC, but he also added that unlike four years ago the grassroots structure won't be severely curtailed, after pressure from some Congressional Democrats.

"People just spent five years winning two presidential elections together, now they're not just walking away," added Messina.

As for the re-election campaign itself, Messina said by law it "needs to shut down. We cannot spend funds for non-presidential activity."

But he added that some of the campaign structure will "absolutely live on" and says he hopes that every campaign will use "the tools we built."

And he was clear that "you can't just hand this to the next candidate for president. This organization was built for people who supported this president."

As for himself, Messina said "I'm going to Italy and hang out," adding "I've been going at this for five years. I've taken a one week vacation in five years and so it is time to restore my energy. The president and I were joking recently about how bad I look. It is time to take a vacation."

Messina was chief of staff for the 2008 Obama campaign and then served as deputy White House chief of staff during the president's first two years in office, helping in the effort to pass health care reform, before moving back to Chicago to run the 2012 Obama re-election campaign.

As for what's next, Messina said "I think my future is probably outside the White House, helping him in becoming part of what ever happens to our social movement to help advocate for his (Obama's) agenda."


Filed under: 2012 • President Obama
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. spatch

    We have too many people receiving other wage earners money. How is it possible that 47% of Americans keep draining our monies out of other peoples pockets. And now welfare rules have been relaxed to increase that even more. Facts are hard to swallow and pointing fingers at both parties for this outrage is useless. Reform is needed!!!

    November 20, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  2. Data Driven

    Short-term, OFA's function should be to keep the President's feet to the fire and prevent the Beltway cocoon from forming around him.

    November 20, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Here's the part that the right wing will never understand. The right believes that OFA was built on ideology and getting their message out far and wide. It wasn't built that way. Right wing messaging and ideology had more to do with the growth of OFA than anything that the left could say or do.

    Sutff like crashing the economy, promising jobs from massive trickle down tax cuts, and apparently misleading the public into engaging in a lengthy, expensive war that featured billions of no bid contracts to companies like Blackwater. Stuff like waging war on unions, women, minorities and everything that was "not one of us" helped to.

    November 20, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. Marry

    The "Obama" people where really outstanding. Friendly, listening, effective – and of cause with a great advantage: A FANTASTIC "PRODUCT" TO SELL! All genuine, honest, classy – a man that we were proud to reelect! Stay with it – still lots of work to do!

    November 20, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  5. Ancient Texan

    Obama is still campaigning...He intends to run for President of the newly formed one world government in 2016.

    November 20, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    The Dems are keeping everything active, including all the Dem trolls on CNN.

    November 20, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  7. just askin

    if it is an obama organization shouldn't the acronym be SOFA to reflect where most of his supporters spend their day?

    November 20, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  8. Tommy G

    How could the world's biggest narcisist EVER leave the world stage? How could the world EVER be denied the Dear Leaders numerous and endless teleprompter speeches? How could his koolaide drinking followers EVER live with him in their life on a daily basis?

    Obama, the new national cult. Koolaide served 6 times daily.

    November 20, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. Rudy NYC

    Rick McDaniel

    The Dems are keeping everything active, including all the Dem trolls on CNN.
    --------------------------------–
    That is not a smart "Rick McDaniel" remark. The Rick I know is not a hypocrite, but rather an intelligent conservative.

    November 20, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  10. jpeagle21

    Oh yes! I couldn't get to sleep last night because I was wondering what happens next for "Obama for America".

    November 20, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Ancient Texan wrote:

    Obama is still campaigning...He intends to run for President of the newly formed one world government in 2016.
    -----------------
    Gee, look at that. Yesterday I was ridiculed by the right for warning the left on the latest, greatest and outrageous conspiracy theory coming out of the rigth wing. I warned that the right now believes Pres. Obama will somehow engineer himself a third term.

    In fact, the same name that dismissed the conspiracty theory yesterday as ridiculous is here reciting and promoting today as if it were fact! The right wing medai machine is truly amazing, y'all. it can broadcast Romnesia!

    November 20, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  12. Anthony

    Spatch, stop insulting the 47%. In case you missed it, 51% of the people voted for Obama. If Republicans keep on insulting people who support Obama, asserting or implying that they don't work, they will keep on voting the way they did and their number will keep on growing. Republicans, good luck winning future elections– you will need it.

    November 20, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  13. just sayin

    >Rudy NYC
    >I warned that the right now believes Pres. Obama will somehow engineer himself a third term.

    why would obama need a third term? his destruction of the usa will be done well before the end of his second term. mission accomplished. ease up on the koolaide rudy. you're starting to scare the children.

    November 20, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  14. ST

    We are not going to let the organisation die. It will continue to be active even beyond 2016. In 2016, if Hillary will decide to run, we will just change the name: Hillary For America or Clinton For America. We will still be the same family as putting the old wine in a new bottle.

    November 20, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  15. Get Real

    You mean we don't actually have to get a life and get a REAL job?

    November 20, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  16. betterdays

    Sell the organization to the highest bidding Democrat. Don't forget to add a hefty surcharge if they're rich. It's only fair.

    November 20, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    just sayin wrote:

    why would obama need a third term? his destruction of the usa will be done well before the end of his second term. mission accomplished. ease up on the koolaide rudy. you're starting to scare the children.
    ---------------
    Was it you? If so, sorry Ancient Texan. You all sound alike. Why would Obama need a third term? Good question. Try doing a web search on it to see all of the right wing conspiracy theories on it. They run the range from repealing the 20th amendment, creating a global financial crisis, creating global warfare to become some sort of Global Hegemon as suggested above. I'm just the messenger. Don't blame me for what the right wing says.

    November 20, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  18. i'malib

    Does this mean I will lose my free phone?

    November 20, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. Brian from CO

    Ancient Texan wrote:
    Obama is still campaigning...He intends to run for President of the newly formed one world government in 2016.

    ==============================================================================

    Why is it the tea party is so out of touch with reality. First they were convinced Obama was not a citizen, then the polls were all wrong, let's not forget the science of global warming is wrong, and now Obama is going to some how take ove the world with a third term. It's time for the normal Republicans to rise up and take their party back.

    November 20, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  20. joe

    the Obama people are smart and working for the middle class. Repos still dont get it and thats fine with us. We will be in good shape to support our president and ready to help the next democrat get elected. The repos will still be fighting among themselves and looking for president Obama to brain wash them. Forward.

    November 20, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  21. Tony

    Get real, help Romney get a real job. Romney needs help. Even with hundreds of millions in campaign funds and more in Super PAC help Romney could not convince a majority of Americans he would do a better job than Obama.

    November 20, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |