Clinton prepares for 2016 with staffing picks, meetings

Story highlights

  • Hillary Clinton is preparing for a likely 2016 run by regularly meeting with advisers in her New York home
  • Clinton's orbit has tapped John Podesta, Joel Benenson, Jim Margolis and Robby Mook for top campaign roles
  • Yet to be decided are the structure and heads of Clinton's communications, field and digital operations

Washington (CNN)Hillary Clinton has been meeting with advisers at her Chappaqua, New York home for strategy sessions about launching a 2016 presidential run, a Democratic source tells CNN.

The meetings have taken place for part of the last month, according to the source, and have focused on the strategy, tactics and policy that would make a possible Clinton run in 2016 campaign successful.
"She has got a lot of depth in policy, but she is looking for new ideas," the source said. "She is also being very thorough about the path to the nomination and the path to the presidency. There are a lot of strategy meetings with tactics focused on that."
    Democrats attending some of these meetings -- which were first reported by the Washington Post on Tuesday -- include Joel Benenson, Jim Margolis and Robby Mook, according to the source, who noted that all three operatives had been selected to play major roles in the Clinton campaign.
    In the run up to what is now an all-but-certain 2016 announcement, Benenson has been tapped chief strategist for the Clinton campaign, according to reports from the Washington Post and Politico. The source said that specific title has not been solidified yet, but the Democratic pollster is playing a big role in this pre-campaign process.
    "She [Clinton] likes him for more than just reading poll results," the source said, noting that he would play a larger role than campaign pollster.
    The Clinton pre-campaign has also selected Mook -- a veteran of Clinton's 2008 campaign -- as their campaign manger, according to the source, and Margolis -- a senior adviser to Obama's successful 2012 reelection bid -- as media adviser. Both selections have been expected by Democrats close to Clinton and been previously reported.
    John Podesta, a top White House adviser who is slated to leave the White House in early February, has also been named campaign chairman, the source said. Politico was first to report his top campaign slot.
    "He will be the chairman and the issue right now is if everyone will report to him as the chairman," the source said. "I don't think he will be a titular head. I think the issue is is he going to be in charge of the campaign with authority and the intention is that he will be very active."
    Podesta, a former top aide in Bill Clinton's White House, joined the Obama White House in 2013 to help on major projects and negotiations. Recently he has since been blunt about the fact he planned to leave the administration in early 2015 to help a possible Clinton campaign.
    "If she runs, as I hope she will, I will do whatever she asks me to do," Podesta said on the Charlie Rose Show in November. "Right now she hasn't made a decision to run, so I am expecting to return to what I was doing before."
    Clinton's meetings at her home in New York seemingly explain her month long absence from the speaking circuit and Twitter. The former secretary of state has gone over a month without a high-profile speaking gig, a dearth in events that is noticeable considering how many event Clinton headlined last year. Clinton will headline her first event in over a month on Wednesday in Winnipeg, Canada.
    Although some structural decisions have been made, the source said the Clinton camp has not solidified the overall architecture of the operation as well as heads of the communications, field and digital operations.
    "There are these structural things to do and then, really I think once that is done, the thing she is going to end up spending a lot of time on is her plan and her message," the source said.
    Clinton's 2016 team, though early, is already shaping up to be a departure from the team that surrounded her in her during her failed 2008 presidential run. Instead, Clinton is pulling heavily from Democrats who successfully won Obama the White House twice.
    Republicans seeking to tie Clinton and Obama have welcomed that fact, arguing that by hiring former Obama advisers, Clinton is making their job easy.
    In a memo from America Rising, an anti-Clinton super PAC, Tim Miller, the group's executive director, said "Clinton is signaling that she's not just from the same party as the President, but that she's an Obama Democrat, who will back his policies, pursue his agenda, and represent a Third Term of the Obama Administration."
    Emails to the a Clinton spokesman about the meetings and hiring went unanswered.