With what’s most likely his final campaign behind him, President Obama is turning his massive organization and much praised ground game into a new group that will keep supporting him as he kicks off his second term.
Barack Obama’s campaign organization, Obama for America, will relaunch this Sunday into a nonprofit organization that will work to mobilize support for his policies. The new group, Organizing for Action, will relaunch in its new form just as the president begins his second term.
In an email to supporters, the president urged readers to join the new phase of his campaign for issues rather than office.
“We may have started this as a long-shot presidential primary campaign in 2007, but it’s always been about more than just winning an election. Together, we’ve made our communities stronger, we’ve fought for historic legislation, and we’ve brought more people than ever before into the political process,” Obama wrote. “Organizing for Action will be a permanent commitment to this mission.”
He highlighted immigration reform, climate change, gun violence, and the Affordable Care Act’s implementation as key issues, along with “growing the economy from the middle out” and pursuing “balanced” deficit reduction.
The conversion of a campaign group into a nonprofit is unprecedented, especially because the organization will live outside of the DNC, which has traditionally served as the president’s political muscle. The group will be chaired by Obama’s 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina. Leadership will reportedly include campaign veterans like Stephanie Cutter, Robert Gibbs, and even David Plouffe, once he leaves the White house. Google CEO Eric Schmidt is set to serve as well.
The new OFA will be a 501(c)4 group which can run issue ads but not support specific candidates, unlike Priorities USA, the pro-Obama super PAC that could accept unlimited financial contributions for his reelection campaign. OFA insiders tell NBC News that the group will disclose all of its donors, even though it is not legally required to do so.
First Lady Michelle Obama championed the new group in a video announcement shared with supporters via email. “The next phase of our movement for change.”
“For the past six years, you’ve done something so much bigger than elect a president. You’ve given ordinary people a place in our democratic process again,” she said. “The relationships you made, the tools you built, and the lesson you’ve learned have already begun to change our politics, and in the coming years they can change our country. And that’s the mission of Organizing for Action, to build on the work we’ve already done by training and empowering the next generation of leaders and supporting the grassroots organizing you want to do on the issues that matter most to your community and to our country.”
She quoted her own husband, “Winning an election won’t bring about the change we seek, it’s simply the chance to make that change. So I hope you will join Organizing for Action to seize that chance.”
Robert Gibbs hinted at the development of the new group on msnbc’s Morning Joe on Wednesday, indicating that the new OFA may take on gun violence as its first issue.
“The president has the most exciting campaign apparatus ever built. It’s time to turn that loose,” Gibbs said. “It’s time to turn that loose for something more than just an election. If the NRA’s got a list, then Obama for America has a bigger list.”