Changes, Additions At The Top Level Of Edwards's Campaign

DES MOINES -- Sen. John Edwards's Raleigh-based presidential campaign is planning to add experienced Democratic strategists to his high command and has shifted the responsibilities of some senior staff, campaign aides and advisers said this morning.

Paul Blank, the political director for Howard Dean's 2003 presidential campaign and currently a chief organizer of a union anti-Wal-Mart campaign, is slated to oversee day-to-day operations on the campaign.

Chris Kofinis, who worked with Blank as "Wake Up Wal-Mart's" chief spokesman, is expected to serve in a senior communications planning role.

Edwards advisers cautioned that the two had not formally signed on yet, and campaign officials refused to confirm or deny news about their impending hires.

Current campaign manager David Bonior will retain his title but will be freed to focus on serving as a public spokesman on Edwards's behalf. He will also travel regularly with Edwards.

The campaign's chief strategists remain deputy campaign manager Jonathan Prince, adviser Joe Trippi and pollster Harrison Hickman.

An Edwards adviser said the additions in no way amount to a staff shake-up, instead characterizing the new campaign structure as evidence of a growing campaign. Other Democrats close to the campaign said that Bonior better serves the campaign as a strategist, rather than a day-to-day supervisor. Democrats who purport to know the internal dialog of the Edwardses have other theories, but they are necessarily speculative, and so I will refrain from writing about them.

The addition of Blank, a Trippi protege, is evidence that Trippi, Dean's former campaign manager, is a power center in Edwards's campaign. Trippi joined the campaign in late April after a long courtship by Elizabeth Edwards.

Blank and Kofinis will also beef up the presence of Democratic operatives with ties to labor; another Edwards senior political adviser, Chris Chafe, is a former chief of staff for UniteHere, a powerful textile and service union.

Edwards continues to lead in Iowa, and his campaign raised $10M in the second quarter. He faces communications challenges, including a press corps hungry to report about his hair cuts, a party focused on the Clinton-Obama proxy wars, and questions about whether his electability will be compromised by taking more liberal positions.