Messina Discusses Obama Campaign Challenges

Aaron Flint posted on March 31, 2011 09:19 :: 2119 Views

The New York Times followed up on what was called, by at least one reporter, a scathing critique of Obama campaign manager, and Univ. of Montana alum, Jim Messina in The Nation.

Here’s an excerpt of the Times profile:

Mr. Messina traded a windowless view in the West Wing for a sprawling office overlooking the park where Mr. Obama delivered his historic victory speech.
It is his job to make sure the president gives another one on Nov. 6, 2012.

“There’s nothing like watching the face of a relatively conservative, mid-60s Montana woman and hear this fellow drop an F-bomb at the mayor’s fund-raiser,” Mr. Engen (Missoula Mayor) said in an interview. “But he’s so good natured, they go and give him a hug later.”

In a 50-minute interview, he mentions grassroots more than two dozen times. The Obama network, he said, has an even bigger challenge than during the first race.

“He’s not going to be sitting in their living rooms the way he was in ’07 and early ’08,” Mr. Messina said of Mr. Obama. “He has to be president of the United States.”

Click here for the full story.


Messina’s Growing List of Enemies

Last time I saw Jim Messina, a top campaign staffer and former Deputy Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama, he was all Griz’ed up, nearly covered in University of Montana Grizzly football gear.  It was hard to tell if he was just that big of a fan, or if it was just a little camouflage so he could enjoy the game without being harrassed following the health care debate.  

Messina went from being a student at The University of Montana (from Idaho), running a Mayoral campaign in Missoula, working as a top staffer to Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), and eventually to his top role in the Obama Administration.     

Messina, a longtime aide to Montana Senator Max Baucus, entered Obamaworld in June 2008 as the campaign’s chief of staff. He had impressed Democrats by leading the effort in the Senate to oppose the Bush administration’s push to privatize Social Security and quickly won the trust of campaign manager David Plouffe, who put Messina in charge of day-to-day operations. “I spend the money, so everything’s gotta go through me to get spent, which is the best job ever,” Messina told The New Yorker. “It’s like getting the keys to a f*#@ing Ferrari.” (Messina has been spotted driving a black Porsche convertible in Washington.)

That was how the liberal mag, The Nation opened up their portrayal of Jim Messina.   

And, as The Flathead Beacon’s Dan Testa noted via Twitter today, it was a pretty critical piece containing quotes from Democratic activists in Montana.

Just look at some of these quotes from The Nation piece:

“It was a major harbinger to me, when Obama hired him, that we were not going to get ‘change we can believe in,’” says Ken Toole, a former Democratic state senator and public service commissioner in Montana.

“Some of the difficulty that healthcare is in today is Max’s fault,” says former Montana Democratic Congressman Pat Williams.

When he worked for Baucus, Messina even kept a list of his political enemies on an Excel spreadsheet. “Ultra-paranoid behavior is very much a hallmark of Messina,” says Ken Toole.

“If you want to have a future in Montana politics, you don’t criticize Jim Messina,” says James Anacker, a former field rep for Baucus. “That would be career suicide. People are afraid of him, to tell you the truth.”

It is worth noting that Baucus and Williams may not have the best of history with each other to begin with, considering that Baucus defeated Williams in a primary election.  That being said, Williams’ critique is certainly influential in Montana Democratic politics. 

This comment, however, takes the icing right off the cake:

HCAN’s organizer in Montana, Molly Moody, was banned from Baucus’s office and prevented from attending his public events. (Baucus’s office did not reply to a request for comment.) “This is something Messina did in Montana—any group that did any outside pressure on Baucus was iced out,” says Kirsch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *