Obama Adds Hill Vets to PR Team

Posted July 14, 2008 at 6:14pm

Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) campaign rolled out a revamped list of communications staff on Monday, including the addition and promotion of several staffers with ties to Capitol Hill.

Democratic strategist Jenny Backus will head up the campaign’s communications operation for the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Backus is a former communications director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic National Committee, and she was an adviser to Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) 2004 White House bid.

Among the other top changes in Obama’s shop is the promotion of Communications Director Robert Gibbs to a senior strategist for the campaign. Gibbs, a former Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee aide who has worked for Obama since his 2004 Senate race, will handle a broader strategic portfolio that includes communication and message.

Dan Pfeiffer, who had been Gibbs’ deputy, will take over as communications director. Pfeiffer is a former aide to Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who once eyed a presidential run.

Democratic consultant Anita Dunn, a veteran of many Congressional and Senate campaigns, will also be a senior adviser, overseeing the research and policy shops.

Linda Douglass, a former TV and print news reporter, will continue to serve as traveling spokeswoman for the campaign, while Bill Burton will continue as national spokesman.

Josh Earnest succeeds Pfeiffer as deputy communications director. Earnest, a former DNC spokesman, began the cycle as an aide to former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) in his short-lived presidential bid. After Vilsack dropped out of the race, Earnest became Obama’s principal spokesman in Iowa.

Christina Reynolds, who was the research director for former North Carolina Democratic Sen. John Edwards’ 2004 and 2008 presidential bids, has been tapped to lead the campaign’s rapid response effort. Deputy National Press Secretary Tommy Vietor has shifted to work full time for the rapid response team.

Moira Mack, formerly of Hildebrand Tewes Consulting, and Nick Shapiro, who had been doing regional communications work for the campaign, are now splitting the role of deputy national press secretary.

Other additions and changes to the communications staff include:

• Wendy Morigi, formerly with Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s (D-W.Va.) office, is the new national security spokeswoman.

• Dag Vega left the DNC to head up the campaign’s surrogate communications operation.

• Joelle Terry is the deputy director of surrogate press and is campaign’s chief interview booker.

• Regional communications directors are: Gannet Tseggai (Northeast); Amy Brundage (Midwest); Shannon Gilson (Southwest); Dan Leistikow (Industrial Midwest); Melanie Roussell (South); Nayyera Haq (West).