The Campaign Spot

Obama Staffer: Before Jarrett, Our Campaign Ignored Minority Staffers

Joshua DuBois, former head of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships under President Obama, writes in the Daily Beast that Valerie Jarrett “saved the Obama campaign” and is “indispensable.” He paints an ugly picture of Obama’s presidential campaign before her arrival:

Our young, diverse campaign staff didn’t always feel heard by the powers that be. There were strategic recommendations, views on where the candidate should go, and political intelligence among these lower and middle ranks of staffers, but few places to send them. This resulted in missed opportunities, depressed morale — and declining poll numbers in states where the support of young people, African Americans, Latinos, and other minorities was key.

That’s when Valerie stepped in. She had functionally been a volunteer and an occasional advisor up to that point, but after the Lewis disaster it was clear she needed to take a larger role. So she more formally joined the ranks of the campaign’s senior leadership. And as soon as she became a regular presence at our Michigan Avenue headquarters, things started to change.

Young, black, Latino, women, and gay staffers felt like they had a listening ear and advocate in the upper tiers of the campaign — at times after making a quiet trip to Valerie’s office . . . 

Valerie brought a level of empathy and spirit to the hardened machinery of elections that we sorely needed in order to match our hopeful rhetoric with the reality of the campaign. Perhaps more importantly, she protected and elevated causes and voices — diverse voices — that would have otherwise never been heard.

Does he realize what he’s saying? That without the presence of Valerie Jarrett, the Barack Obama for President campaign would have excluded, ignored, or taken for granted young, black, Latino, women, and gay staffers and, by extension, voters with the same characteristics? That the only thing that kept the black, relatively young candidate in touch with these staffers, and treating them with appropriate respect and appreciation was Jarrett?

How do you feel about that characterization, David Axelrod? How about you, Robert Gibbs? David Plouffe? Penny Pritzker? Jon Favreau?


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