If some of what the group trying to lay the groundwork for a Hillary Clinton presidential run is doing sounds familiar, there might be a reason.
His name is Mitch Stewart.
Stewart led the battleground state operation for President Obama’s successful reelection last year. Now he’s a senior advisor for Ready For Hillary, the super PAC dedicated to supporting a potential Clinton presidential bid.
In an interview Friday with TPM, Stewart said the pro-Clinton organization has been trying to “learn from what we did previously.”
Ready For Hillary is focused on building grassroots support, including, as Stewart described, “delving into some of these different constituencies that proved pivotal in 2012 … engaging Latinos, young people, African Americans, women, LGBT.”
Minorities and young people were key elements of the coalition that helped Obama defeat Clinton when they faced off in 2008, and they helped the President beat Mitt Romney last year.
But focus on those groups isn’t the only aspect of Ready For Hillary’s strategy that seems ripped from Team Obama’s playbook. The organization has developed a robust social media presence and has been pursuing small dollar donations as well as gathering data on potential supporters.
Stewart was careful to say that he has had no contact with Clinton, and that he is confident her inner circle of advisors know what they’re doing should she run. And though the 2008 election was bitter, Clinton went on to work closely with Obama and his team when she became secretary of state.
“In 2008, there certainly was a divide, but there’s virtually no divide now between Hillary operatives and Obama operatives as far as what their experience level is,” said Stewart. “A lot of those Clinton folks have either been working in the Obama world or have worked very closely with folks who were involved in the 2008 campaign and the lessons have already transferred.”
Stewart and his firm, 270 Strategies, have been advising Ready for Hillary since July. Another of the firm’s founding partners, Jeremy Bird, was Obama’s national field director.
Stewart said he thinks plenty of other Obama operatives will eagerly line up behind Clinton if she jumps into the 2016 field.
“I think there is incredible excitement about a potential (Clinton) candidacy within the Obama world,” he said. “And I think if she were to run there would be a long, long line of really accomplished people waiting to help support that campaign.”
Stewart also said the future of the PAC is something of an open question, despite its enthusiastic support for Clinton.
“If she were to announce, we’d have a lot of conversations about how best to support probably both that announcement, but then her eventual candidacy,” he explained. “Obviously we’d have to consult with her lawyers to make sure that everything that we’re doing is in line with election laws.”