Biden Shakes Up Campaign Staff

An encouraging sign.

He has all but locked-up the Democratic nomination but former Vice President Joe Biden has appointed a new campaign manager and reorganized the top levels of his team.

WaPo (“Joe Biden appoints Jen O’Malley Dillon as new campaign manager“):

Former vice president Joe Biden has named Jen O’Malley Dillon as his new campaign manager, a major shake-up that comes as the party’s leading candidate plans an organizational expansion to prepare for the general election, according to a person familiar with the decision.

The move is intended to quell concerns raised in recent weeks by senior Democratic strategists about the leadership structure of the Biden campaign, which has been beset by underwhelming fundraising, scant staffing resources and organizational miscues during the early nominating contests.

The campaign shuffle is an acknowledgment that while Biden has had a remarkable recent run of victories — at least 15 of the past 21 contests — his operation was not up to the challenge posed by President Trump if Biden wins the nomination.

After Biden performed well below expectations in the Iowa caucuses, Anita Dunn, a senior adviser who previously worked for President Barack Obama, took operational control of the campaign, sharing responsibilities with Biden’s original campaign manager, Greg Schultz.

Schultz, who prepared and built the Biden campaign and oversaw initial hiring and delegate strategy, is expected to stay on in a new role that will involve organizational planning and continued outreach to donors and other stakeholders for the general election, the person familiar with the plans said. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal campaign strategies.

Dunn, who also helped Biden prepare for a possible 2016 run for president before he decided not to run, will also continue with the campaign, returning to her role as a senior adviser to Biden.

While I was initially puzzled that a man who completely turned around his campaign and is now waltzing to the nomination is changing up his team, the explanation is heartening in at least three ways.

First, it’s unusual for a leader to recognize that his team isn’t good enough when things are going right. Shoving Schultz aside after the Iowa debacle was easy; things weren’t working and it was obviously time to try something new. Recognizing that he’s going to need to up his organization’s game to beat Trump in November, and that Dunn wasn’t the right person for that job, was hard.

Second, leaders need to be able to tell subordinates they’re close to that they’re in the wrong role. That’s a skill far too many lack. Politicians, especially, have an intense desire to be liked.

Third, that Biden has managed to replace Schultz and Dunn and yet keep them on his team in a high level working their tails off for him says something about his ability to inspire loyalty. Leaders don’t need sycophants. But having people who have worked for you willing to continue soldiering on even if their egos are bruised is a rare quality.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Joe Biden, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. An Interested Party says:

    Third, that Biden has managed to replace Schultz and Dunn and yet keep them on his team in a high level working their tails off for him says something about his ability to inspire loyalty. Leaders don’t need sycophants. But having people who have worked for you willing to continue soldiering on even if their egos are bruised is a rare quality.

    It’ll be refreshing if all of that could return to the White House, especially after the current Animal Farm that is going on there…

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  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    I agree. This is impressive and reassuring.

    I think several things are happening right now.

    1) Democrats are done with Bernie and the longer he stays in the more he’ll drag his supporters down into irrelevance. He needs to go away. Everyone wants him to go away, now. You can’t hold a revolution when you can’t even assemble.

    2) I think the sense memory of that panicky, gasping, dying spray-tanned robot speech of Trump’s added to the collapse of the stock market presaging an inevitable rise in unemployment, drop in GDP, and ballooning deficit, will linger long after the worst of the pandemic is through. Even some in Cult45 must be thinking, ‘More Fauci, less Pence and even less Trump.’

    3) Trump is wetting himself. Turn off the sound of that Trump speech and it’s disturbing. Turn up the sound and it’s worse. Major corrections within seconds of the speech? Yeah, that’s reassuring. Trump is watching his hopes die, and realizing that he’s not enjoying this anymore. Trump is a coward, a weak man, and deprived of his Nuremberg rallies he weakens. He needs that affirmation. Right now he’s wondering why he can’t just run to Mar-a-Lago and lock it down like Pelican Bay supermax.

    4) GOP Senators who’ve been giving Trump daily tongue baths are suddenly realizing that if their constituents start dying they, too, will be held to account for their groveling acquiescence to Orange Jesus.

    5) The only person in the federal government anyone can count on for anything useful, aside from Fauci, is Nancy Pelosi.

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  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Biden just delivered a speech on Covid-19 that ought to scare the bejesus out of Trump.
    It’s nice to be reminded of what a real leader looks like.
    If only he could take over today.

    “This virus laid bare the severe short-comings of the current administration.”

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  4. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: and Katie Porter.

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  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    Indeed. I get Adam Schiff as my guy and Katie Porter as our neighbor, over in Irvine. We’re growing some talent here in LA.

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  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    You know, when you compare Biden’s speech with Trump’s you’re struck with the fact that Trump’s White House staff is far less-informed, far less competent than Biden’s campaign staff.

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  7. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Trump is a coward, a weak man, and deprived of his Nuremberg rallies he weakens.

    Forty years of Trump experience shows his normal arc: “I am the greatest at X and anyone who rides with me will get rich”, “These aren’t setbacks they are merely proof that my investors should seize the opportunity and double down!”, “We will emerge victorious but are surrounded by weak minded losers”, “If there is any fault, it is my investors”, “It was actually the greatest deal of all time because I used it to screw my creditors”, followed by slinking off and disappearing for a while. The problem is that with the presidency he can’t reach that last step. The last hope for him was impeachment, but Modern Republicans are feckless losers who are so afraid of the clown they lock themselves in at night.

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  8. MarkedMan says:

    Katie Porter 2024!

  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Yep, I think he feels trapped. If he could find a way to do it, he’d run away. It’s the Psychopath Way: balls out until you string the scam out as far as you can, then Brave Sir Donald, it’s time to run away, run away!

    I am way too familiar with the psychology of this. But in my defense, I was 24, and I knew I shouldn’t be president.

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  10. An Interested Party says:

    You know, when you compare Biden’s speech with Trump’s you’re struck with the fact that Trump’s White House staff is far less-informed, far less competent than Biden’s campaign staff.

    But of course…a fish rots from the head down…it’s a shame that basic competency is optional in this White House…

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