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‘Obama’s Last Stand’ highlights disagreements

Former Chief Staff William Daley top President Barack Obambottom Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett left walk off Air Force One after

Former Chief of Staff William Daley top, President Barack Obama bottom, and Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett left, walk off Air Force One after arriving at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

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Updated: September 22, 2012 6:26AM



WASHINGTON — This time around, there is drama in Obamaland.

A new book by Politico’s Glenn Thrush, Obama’s Last Stand, highlights disagreements within the Obama team — at the White House and in the Chicago re-election headquarters in the Prudential Building.

Obama’s 2008 campaign was notable for it’s “no-drama” quality — not easily replicated in 2012.

Among the highlights:

† Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel — Obama’s former chief of staff — warned early on that the Obama team needed a big-time SuperPAC to compete with the millions of dollars of SuperPAC cash Romney allies were giving — but senior adviser David Axelrod wanted Obama to stay above the fray.

“When pragmatists like Rahm Emanuel and [campaign manager] Jim Messina made the case that Obama needed to tap high-octane talent to create an Obama-allied SuperPAC to compete with Romney’s Restore Our Future, he waved them off,” Thrush wrote.

“People familiar with the early planning told me that one of the names thrown around to possibly head the effort was Penny Pritzker, Obama’s billionaire friend from Chicago, whose influence and connections had helped him compete in a 2008 environment.”

Later, the Obama team “began to realize the magnitude of their mistake” — in not getting in the SuperPAC game earlier and having relatively low-stature operatives (Bill Burton and Sean Sweeney) in charge of Priorities Action USA.

Thrush comments about how the Obama team did not seem to appreciate earlier the SuperPAC threat:

“Without the necessary sense of urgency, the process drifted. Thus, one of the greatest collections of control freaks in political history sat around in the middle of 2011 waiting to see who would pick up the fallen SuperPAC mantle. Outsiders were horrified, “ Thrush wrote.

On Feb. 7, Obama relented, endorsed Priorities and allowed top campaign and Cabinet officials to woo donors.

† Emanuel helped engineer Bill Daley as his successor as chief of staff when he left to run for mayor. At the time it was a seemingly “perfect fit.” But not for long.

“Daley took his palace-guard role a little too seriously, without the internal support he needed to move forcefully.” But one of his biggest missteps, Thrush wrote, was “alienating” White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.

Wrote Thrush, “Valerie Jarrett quickly soured on Daley — and frequently shared her unflattering assessments with Obama during their closed-door consultations.”

Of Jarrett, Thrush noted, “If there was one person who knew best how Obama ticked, it was Valerie Jarrett, a maternal figure who was becoming ever more involved in Obama’s daily schedule in early 2012.”

† Regarding Pritzker, the Chicago billionaire business executive who led the 2008 Obama fund-raising drive (and whose success made his candidacy viable in its early stages when he was challenging Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries): Several articles have noted she’s not contributing to the Obama SuperPAC, sending a signal — intentional or not — that other mega donors could stay on the sidelines.

While “Democrats were griping about Penny Pritzker’s inactivity and debating whether or not the president should dial for dollars on Air Force One, Karl Rove and Crossroads GPS were striking,” Thrush wrote.



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