Hillary Clinton could lure prized advisor John Podesta if she launches presidential campaign

Mr Podesta was Chief of Staff during Bill Clinton's second term, and is currently a special counselor to President Obama

David Usborne
Tuesday 13 January 2015 23:38
John Podesta has agreed to serve as a senior counselor to Hillary Clinton
John Podesta has agreed to serve as a senior counselor to Hillary Clinton

In another unmistakable sign that Hillary Clinton is preparing a bid for the White House in 2016, one of President Barack Obama’s most prized advisors, John Podesta, has indicated he will move to work inside her putative campaign when he leaves the White House at the end of next month, it emerged tonight.

Mr Podesta, who was Chief of Staff in former President Bill Clinton’s second term, has agreed to serve as a senior counselor to Mrs Clinton, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing three people familiar with his plans while not identifying them. There was no comment either from Mr Podesta or Mrs Clinton.

Few figures in the Democratic Party constellation carry as much intellectual heft as Mr Podesta who after serving under Mr Clinton founded the Centre for American Progress, a liberal think tank here in Washington DC. He agreed to take on the role as special counselor to President Obama one year ago when the President’s political fortunes were waning.

Officially, Mrs Clinton still has to make her intentions known as regards a 2016 run. A formal decision may not come until the spring. However, confirmation of Mr Podesta’s decision to join her camp even now would further embolden those who see her candidacy as a foregone conclusion.

Without a formal campaign apparatus in place, Mr Podesta would be presumably serve in an informal position at first as advisor and enforcer of discipline in her entourage, something that was famously missing during her tumultuous bid in 2008 when Mr Obama took the nomination away from her.

Assuming she does eventually declare it seems likely, however, that he would be appointed campaign manager.

That he has been harbouring an interest in assisting Mrs Clinton as she eyes the White House has been an open secret for some time. He had already made plain his intention to leave Mr Obama’s side at the end of February. In an interview with Reuters earlier this month he broadly hinted at his interest in joining the former First Lady’s team. “I’ve got to figure out what I’m doing in life,” he said, before adding that if Mrs Clinton “decides to run, I told her I’d do anything I can to help her”.

Inevitably, Mr Podesta would hold considerable sway in any Clinton operation, by dint of his long friendship and political association with the family and also the closeness in age to the putative candidate. He is 65 years old, Hillary is 67.

For the past year, Mr Podesta has been in the inner circle of top aides to Mr Obama, almost serving as a shadow Chief of Staff. That position is formally held by Dennis McDonough. His value to the President was on notable display at the end of last year when it emerged that a surprise breakthrough deal between the US and China on climate change had been largely negotiated by him on Mr Obama’s behalf.

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