Joe Biden is restructuring his senior staff after a disappointing fourth-place showing in the Iowa caucuses, elevating a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama to lead his campaign operation.
Anita Dunn, who already worked as an adviser to Biden, traveling at times with the former vice president and leading his debate preparation, now has final decision-making authority on his campaign, sources familiar with the matter said.
Campaign manager Greg Schultz and chairman Steve Ricchetti informed the staff of Dunn’s new role in an internal email Thursday, saying she will be “working closely with us on campaign strategy and overall coordination on budget and personnel as we build a bigger campaign for the next phase.”
The move follows a disastrous Iowa organizing effort that served as a wake-up call for Biden’s campaign, where stylistic differences between Schultz and Ricchetti had become a source of tension, sources said.
Asked whether Dunn, Schultz or Ricchetti was in charge of Biden’s campaign, a senior aide told reporters on a call Friday: “The person in charge of the campaign is Joe Biden.”
Biden’s campaign is also bringing in outside help. Jen O’Malley Dillon, the former top Obama campaign aide and manager of Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign, has agreed to help Biden in a volunteer capacity on his campaign’s organizing effort in Nevada – lending Biden’s campaign an expert organizer in a state where they have told donors and reporters they expect a bounce-back, a source familiar with the matter said.
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The move to elevate Dunn, first reported by The New York Times, comes as Biden looks to ease the concerns of donors and allies and regain his footing ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.
Calling his Iowa loss a “gut punch,” he has shifted his tone on the campaign trail, displaying a new willingness to attack his Democratic rivals – particularly Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
But polls suggest Biden could be in line for another loss. Senior aides downplayed New Hampshire’s importance on a call with reporters Friday, pointing out that Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren are from neighboring states and that Buttigieg has an “incredibly homogenous electorate.”
“When this nomination gets to a place where diverse voices and people from all over the country have their say, we’re confident that Joe Biden is going to be the candidate that they choose,” one senior aide said.
Dunn was a senior adviser to Obama during his 2008 campaign and served as White House communications director in his administration.
Dunn has spent the majority of her time in Washington, but her expanded role in the Philadelphia headquarters is seen as a way to ease concerns of supporters and donors about the state of Biden’s campaign after a deflating loss in Iowa.
“We wanted to adjust and make some changes to ensure we are putting forward our best foot as a campaign as we move on to these next few contests,” a senior Biden aide said of the move in a call with reporters Friday, after news of the staff change had broken.
“I understand the tendency to kind of overanalyze and ascribe meaning to a personnel change at this stage in the race,” the aide said. “But, you know – this is not bringing in somebody new; this is not reshuffling the structure at the top of our campaign. This is just giving a slightly broader portfolio to somebody who has been deeply involved in our campaign from the outset.”
Asked about fundraising since Iowa caucus night, the senior aide said Biden’s campaign is “not at all discouraged by what we see in terms of money coming in.”
“We have the resources we need to run our race. We are not running out of money,” a second senior aide said.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.