Much was made of the recent announcement by a pro-Hillary Clinton political group that it had hired former Obama campaign field operatives, but the move doesn't mean the former secretary of state will cruise to the presidency should she choose to run, experts say. It also doesn't mean Obama-ites will abandon any of the presidential ambitions of Vice President Joe Biden en masse, either. "They basically were running a 1996 to 2000 style campaign in the 2008 era," says Jamal Simmons, a Democratic strategist who worked with both the Al Gore and Bill Clinton presidential campaigns, of Hillary's 2008 race. "So it looks like they are trying to infuse new talent and adopt some new practices for the modern era of campaigning." The Obama 2012 campaign has been widely lauded as a model of how to use voter databases to target likely voters and get them to the polls. Ready for Hillary, the super PAC formed by former aides and friends to support a Clinton presidential bid, said Wednesday it was hiring 270 Strategies, a consulting firm with top Obama campaign staffers including 2012 field director Jeremy Byrd, to help lay track ahead of 2016. "'Ready for Hillary' has sought out the most talented people in the business to harness the energy of everyday Hillary supporters and lay the groundwork for 2016," said Craig Smith, a top adviser for the PAC, in a release. "There is no one that better understands grass roots presidential politics than the team that won the last two presidential elections. Already, hundreds of thousands of Americans are joining Ready for Hillary's national movement and urging Hillary to run. The professionals at 270 Strategies will help us expand and mobilize that effort in all corners of the country." Many have critiqued Clinton's 2008 political team, headed by Mark Penn, for being out-innovated and out-manned by Barack Obama's grass roots staff. And his 2012 team proved their superiority over Mitt Romney's campaign by sweeping nearly all the swing states - but one Democratic strategist says the key to Clinton winning in 2016 will be by continuing to innovate. "The brilliance of the Obama campaign in 2012 was that they didn't just re-run the game plan from 2008, they actually thought forward how to change more," Simmons says. "So the goal for the Clinton partisans isn't just what worked in 2012, but what the environment is going to be like in 2016." Another Democratic political strategist who worked on the Obama 2008 campaign says despite the coziness now between both Obama and Clinton, there's still some residual resentment between the campaign aides and staffers from the bitter primaries of 2008. "Even if she gets that Obama new blood, she will still have that tension between old school and new school," the strategist says, speaking on background. There's also an undercurrent of ill-will between the Obama and Biden teams harkening back to when the vice president was perceived as getting a little too personally political ahead of the 2012 campaign, she says, which will help color how Obama operatives divvy themselves up. "You're going to see split allegiances, some that were with the president and now they are going to be with Biden, some of it's just there's no more room in Hillary-land," says the Democrat. For now, those looking to read the tea leaves should look at what donors are giving to groups set up to support Biden and Clinton and how much, she says. Clinton topped a recent poll of Iowa voters as their top choice for the Democratic presidential nominee, leading second choice Biden by a wide margin.
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