WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is planning to beef up the team surrounding his wife Michelle Obama, to give her the kind of professional campaign veterans experienced in rapid response to negative attacks – the kind of staff that is usually only seen around an actual candidate, according to a senior aide.
The move is meant to address concerns within the campaign that Michelle Obama will be the target of significant attacks from conservatives this year. Their pre-emptive response is a team that one aide says is unprecedented in presidential politics. According to multiple aides, this team will work with Mrs. Obama to modify her stump speech - in part to include more stories from the voters she met during the primary season - in a bid to counter criticism by some conservatives that she is out of touch.
Former Kerry campaign Communications Director Stephanie Cutter has already been tapped as Mrs. Obama’s chief of staff, and additional staff will be hired in the coming weeks.
Aides say they expect Mrs. Obama to make occasional campaign stops over the next several weeks - including roundtables with military wives, and a womens’ event next week – before hitting the trail full time around July 4.
(CNN) - Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will make a joint public appearance next week for the first time since she ended her White House bid.
Clinton's national finance director, Jonathan Mantz, sent top donors an invitation Tuesday for a June 26 meeting in Washington, D.C. featuring both former rivals. Mantz also asked Clinton donors to show unity by giving Obama $2,300, the maximum donation allowable under federal campaign finance laws.
He added that Clinton "will do everything she can to unify the party and to elect Barack Obama the next President of the United States."
(CNN) - Ellen Malcom, founder of Emily's List and a major Clinton supporter, met with Obama campaign manager David Plouffe at campaign headquarters in Chicago Tuesday.
Malcom, who has warned Obama publicly that he has to do more work to attract blue-collar women, told CNN the meeting included Emily's List Executive Director Ellen Moran and Obama's deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand. She also said it lasted more than an hour, and was "great."
Several weeks ago, Malcolm released an angry statement terming NARAL's decision to endorse Obama over Hillary Clinton "tremendously disrespectful." Less than two weeks ago, she sent an e-mail to supporters in which she spoke positively of Obama, but said she was not quite over her "anger and grief" at Clinton's loss.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The news of Patti Solis Doyle’s hire by Barack Obama is not being well-received by many of those close to the New York senator and by former members of her campaign team, according to a longtime adviser, a top campaign staffer and several major donors.
Doyle, long rumored to be in talks with the Obama team about a position on the Illinois senator’s presidential campaign, was officially named the chief of staff for Obama’s future vice presidential pick on Monday.
According to one longtime adviser, the move is being seen by many of those close to Clinton as a message she will not be Obama’s vice presidential pick.
An aide to Obama insists the hire should not be read as indication of who their choice will be.
(CNN) - In what may be a sign the Democratic Party is already unifying behind Barack Obama, the Illinois senator celebrated his presidential primary victory Tuesday night with several of Hillary Clinton's supporters.
According to one participant, Minnesota City Council member Gary Schiff, Obama spent approximately 30 minutes with some of the New York senator’s most prominent backers in Minnesota, including elected officials, local activists, and fundraisers. A second source confirms the event was organized by St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, who is a co-chairman of Clinton's campaign.
Obama posed for pictures and promised to visit the state early and often as he now turns his attention to the general election and John McCain.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (CNN) - Sen. Hillary Clinton is spending her second straight weekend campaigning in Puerto Rico before the island territory's June 1 primary. It could be one of her last chances to boost her popular vote total.
For Clinton, it's a family affair - with both husband Bill and daughter Chelsea making the rounds.
"Chelsea and I and Hillary have now been to 42 of Puerto Rico's municipalities campaigning for the votes of the people of Puerto Rico," Bill Clinton said Thursday.
"She represents more Puerto Ricans than anyone in the world except someone who is elected here. Send the message back to the mainland on Sunday that Puerto Rico deserves to be considered and its potential is unlimited if only you had a genuine partner in the White House," he added.
She's counting on a strong showing on Sunday. With 55 delegates up for grabs Tuesday, it's the last big prize before the primaries end.
(CNN) – CNN has learned that former first daughter Chelsea Clinton will be campaigning for her mother in Puerto Rico Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of this week.
The announcement comes on the heels of the Clinton campaign's admission that it is currently $20 million in debt and among increased talk by political pundits about when and how Sen. Hillary Clinton will exit the race and concede the Democratic presidential nomination to Sen. Barack Obama.
Puerto Rico holds its presidential primaries on June 1 so the decision to send Chelsea Clinton to the island appears to signal her mother's intention to remain in the race at least until early next month.
In her efforts to help her mother, Chelsea Clinton has lucked out by getting assigned to campaign in not one, but two tropical locales. The younger Clinton previously campaigned in Hawaii prior to that state's Democratic caucuses in February and this week's trip will be her second to Puerto Rico on her mother's behalf.