Obama Hires A Rapid Responder

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"Much needed" and "long-awaited," Barack Obama's presidential campaign has hired veteran Democratic strategist John Del Cecato to handle a newly created rapid response portfolio.

A memo sent to campaign staff this morning by senior aide Dan Pfeiffer says that Del Cecato will work with press secretary Bill Burton and research director Devorah Adler to "help push back on attacks from the media and our friends in rival campaigns."

The memo calls Del Cecato's addition "much needed" and "long awaited," which will undermine any attempt by the Obama campaign to portray his hire as routine.

When Obama began his campaign last winter, aides engaged in rapid response selectively, deliberately trying to draw a constrast between their big picture approach and the trench warfare that's become a trademark of Clinton campaigns.

But the volume of "attacks" and the degree to which they often bumped parts of the campaign off-message convinced the campaign to hire a single senior staffer devoted solely to rapid response.

"It is much needed is because the pace of the campaign has picked up dramatically in recent weeks," an Obama aide said. Still, while staffers work around the clock, Obama's Chicago headquarters lacks an official warroom, a staple of modern campaigns. Researchers and press aides sit together around large desks in an open area.

The campaign's quest to find a rapid response guru began in August; ultimately, they found him in house. Del Cecato is a named partner at the consulting firm founded by Obama's senior strategist David Axelrod.

Del Cecato is a 15-year veteran of Democratic politics. He's worked on campaigns in New York, Iowa and Pennsylvania is a former DCCC spokesman.

A copy of the e-mail was provided to this column by a Democrat who does not work for Obama.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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