Former Obama Campaign Manager Led Austerity-Loving Tories to Victory
After bringing American-style negative campaigning to the UK, Jim Messina says he's coming home to throw his weight behind Hillary Clinton
After the surprise win of the United Kingdom's Conservative Party in Thursday's national election, the spotlight has now fallen on American political operative Jim Messina, who led the pro-austerity party to victory.
Prior to working the British political machine, Messina served as campaign manager—or self-described "mastermind"—of U.S. President Barack Obama's successful 2012 election bid and, before that, White House deputy chief of staff under Rahm Emanuel from 2009 to 2011.
Before his appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Friday, host Joe Scarborough introduced Messina, who was hired as an official adviser to the party of Prime Minister David Cameron, as "the man being called a traitor by liberals worldwide."
During the interview, Messina credited the victory of the austerity-driven Conservative Party to a "resounding economic mandate for the prime minister."
"First of all, the prime minister laid out a compelling economic vision, and second you had a campaign that tried to take us back to the 1970s and 1980s," Messina said of Cameron's liberal Labour Party challenger, Ed Miliband.
"All elections are always about the future, especially an economic future," Messina continued. "We won that choice by over 20 points last night and that's why we stunned the world. And it looks like he'll have an absolute majority, which I don't think many people thought we'd have."
When asked if he has "seen the light" and plans to support a Republican candidate for the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Messina said that he will throw his full weight behind Democratic candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Last year, Messina became co-chair of the pro-Clinton Super PAC Priorities USA.
"I am all Hillary all the time," Messina said. "Whatever its going to take to get Hillary."
In a recent profile of Messina, The Intercept's Ken Silverstein wrote that the consultant was known for his "scumminess," and that he rose to prominence after producing "one of the more homophobic ads of modern political times" during Montana Senator Max Baucus's 2002 reelection campaign. The piece outlines the piles of money that Messina has amassed in speaking and consulting fees, which Silverstein describes as "astonishing, even by Washington standards."
Messina joined the UK's Conservative Party in 2013 as a paid consultant and, as Time reports, "worked to export the latest innovations in American-style campaigning to the UK."
In a much-publicized match-up, Obama's former senior adviser David Axelrod also took part in the UK election, serving as a consultant for Labour Party leader Ed Miliband.
Ahead of the elections, Nigel Farage, leader of the UK's Independence Party, blamed the "Washington spin doctors" for bringing an unwelcome negativity to UK politics.
"What I’m seeing in this election is the influence of these big American advisers and it’s becoming the most negative, personal and nasty campaign I’ve ever seen," Farage said.
Politico reports that Messina and Axelrod weren’t the only ones taking part in the campaign. Obama’s former body man, Reggie Love, also reportedly helped the Conservatives with their field and social media efforts.