WASHINGTON—The Obama campaign—looking at a protracted primary fight and a probable Democratic nomination-- is adding Democratic consultant Anita Dunn to its communications team.
Dunn will have a senior advisory role helping with strategic communications and has already started commuting to the Obama national headquarters in Chicago from Washington. Dunn brings presidential campaign experience and close relationships with key Obama staffers and advisors.
The campaign is also adding Hari Sevugan, who served as communications director for the presidential campaign of Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Ct.). Sevugan will carry the title of senior spokesman.
With the primary going into so many extra innings, one of Dunn’s major projects will be working on longer range planning as campaign manager David Plouffe is starting to gear up for the next phase of the campaign—whether a Democratic guerilla war or a general election run against presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Az.)
Dunn comes to Obama via her connections with former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), where she was his political consultant for 10 years. Daschle’s former chief of staff, Pete Rouse, became Obama’s chief of staff. Rouse, during Obama’s freshman Senate year, became an architect of the plan that laid the groundwork for Obama’s presidential run.
Rouse is splitting his time between the Obama Senate office and the campaign and is expected to take on a larger campaign role in the coming weeks. Also part of Daschle’s inner circle member is Obama deputy campaign manager Steve Hildebrand, who ran Daschle’s political action committee and has been associated with Daschle since 1986.
Dunn has already been informally advising Obama. As a kitchen cabinet member, Dunn has helped with debate prep. In 2006, Dunn stepped in to run, on an interim basis, Obama’s political action committee, HOPEFUND.
Dunn did not join the start-up Obama team in 2007 because she was a consultant for Sen. Evan Bayh’s (D-Ind.) then presidential campaign. Bayh is supporting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) presidential bid.
Dunn is married to election law attorney Robert Bauer, who is legal counsel for the Obama campaign.
Dunn is a partner in Squier Knapp Dunn Communications. Dunn—not her firm—is being hired.
The addition of Dunn and Sevugan does not change the roles of the others in the Obama press shop, where Robert Gibbs is the communications director. The gang includes Tommy Vietor, Josh Earnest, Jen Psaki, Bill Burton, Ben LaBolt, Dan Pfeiffer and Reid Cherlin plus press people out in the field serving as state spokesmen.