With President Barack Obama in the fight of his political life against Republican challenger Mitt Romney, top White House aides are increasingly shuttling to the Democrat's campaign headquarters in Chicago, the Wall Street Journal reported late Wednesday.
Those making the trip from Washington to the Windy City includes senior advisor David Plouffe, who managed Obama's history-making 2008 campaign, and Pete Rouse, who has been with the president since his earliest days in the Senate, the daily said in a piece that cited unnamed officials at the White House and the campaign. Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer is expected to spend one day a week at the HQ through election day, the Journal said.
Obama aides, the newspaper reported, denied that there was "discontent with the campaign's operations" and that the purpose was to improve coordination on things like schedules and messaging.
"But others close to the campaign say Mr. Rouse in particular has been on hand to support campaign manager Jim Messina, who hasn't before run an organization as large and complex," the Journal said. The paper also reported that Messina asked Rouse to widen his role in order to enable the campaign chief to focus on swing-state strategy. The daily cited anonymous administration officials as saying White House attorneys gave the green light to the close cooperation. At issue are laws restricting government officials' ability to engage in politicking while on the job.
But Republicans have expressed unhappiness with the modified Rose Garden campaign Obama has been waging. Much of that reflects natural frustration with the power of incumbency — Air Force One makes a heck of a campaign plane. But one former Bush administration official recently told Yahoo News that he found it jarring to see press secretary Jay Carney and campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki holding joint press briefings aboard Air Force One. Carney and Psaki have described their roles as handling policy and political questions, respectively.
Campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the piece.