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David Plouffe

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David Plouffe
David Plouffe official portrait.jpg
Senior Advisor to the President
In office
January 10, 2011 – January 25, 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by David Axelrod
Succeeded by Daniel Pfeiffer
Personal details
Born May 27, 1967 (age 47)
Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.
Political party Democratic Party
Alma mater University of Delaware

David Plouffe (/ˈplʌf/; born May 27,[citation needed] 1967)[1][2] is an American political strategist best known as the campaign manager for Barack Obama‘s 2008 presidential campaign in the United States. A long-time Democratic Party campaign consultant, he was a partner at the party-aligned campaign consulting firm AKPD Message and Media, which he joined in 2000.[3] Plouffe was an outside senior advisor to Obama since the president’s first day in office and was then appointed as a Senior Advisor to the President (inside the White House) in 2011 following the resignation of David Axelrod, who went on to start Obama’s reelection campaign.[4]

Early life

Plouffe was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware,[5] in a Jewish family,[6][7][8] the son of Frances (née Vincent), a stay-at-home mother, and James Everett “Jim” Plouffe, a factory worker who later had a job in marketing.[9][10] He was raised in a working-class family.[11] Plouffe attended St. Mark’s High School. He left the University of Delaware prior to graduating in 1989 to pursue a full-time career in politics, and completed his full undergraduate degree in May 2010.[12]


Plouffe began his political career by working for Senator Tom Harkin‘s 1990 re-election campaign.[13] He later worked as a state field director for Harkin’s unsuccessful 1992 Presidential campaign. In the same year he successfully managed Congressman John Olver‘s first re-election bid in Massachusetts. In 1994 Plouffe managed Delaware Attorney General Charles M. Oberly‘s unsuccessful campaign against Senator William V. Roth. He then worked as campaign director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 1995. In 1996 Plouffe managed Bob Torricelli‘s successful campaign to fill Bill Bradley‘s New Jersey seat in the United States Senate.[citation needed]

From 1997-98, Plouffe served as Democratic leader Dick Gephardt‘s Deputy Chief of Staff. In 1999-2000, as executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Plouffe led Democrats to gains that came within several thousand votes of winning back the House. He also led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to unusually high fundraising amounts, during his tenure at the DCCC. In the winter of 2000, Plouffe joined AKPD Message and Media but left briefly to serve as a strategist for Gephardt’s unsuccessful Presidential bid. He returned to the firm and became a partner in February 2004. Beginning in 2003, Plouffe and fellow AKPD partner David Axelrod worked on Barack Obama’s 2004 Illinois Senate campaign, beginning his association with Obama. Plouffe worked with Axelrod on the successful 2006 campaign of Deval Patrick for Governor of Massachusetts.[citation needed]

2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign

Plouffe was the campaign manager for Obama’s successful 2008 presidential campaign. He is credited with the campaign’s successful overall strategy in the race (primarily against Senator Hillary Clinton) for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, to focus on the first caucus in Iowa and on maximizing the number of pledged delegates, as opposed to focusing on states with primaries and the overall popular vote. He is also credited by The New Republic for Obama’s success in the Iowa caucus and for crafting an overall strategy to prolong the primary past Super Tuesday. The Chicago Tribune writes, “Plouffe was the mastermind behind a winning strategy that looked well past Super Tuesday’s contests on Feb. 5 and placed value on large and small states.”[14] Plouffe also maintained discipline over communications in the campaign, including controlling leaks and releasing information about the campaign on its terms. Averse to publicity himself, Plouffe’s control over the internal workings of the Obama campaign successfully avoided the publicly aired squabbles that frequently trouble other campaigns.[14]

In June 2008, when then-Senator Obama clinched the Democratic Party nomination, he thanked Plouffe for being the one “who never gets any credit, but has built the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States.” In May 2008, David Axelrod praised Plouffe, stating he had “done the most magnificent job of managing a campaign that I’ve seen in my life of watching presidential politics. To start something like this from scratch and build what we have built was a truly remarkable thing.”[15] After winning the election on November 4, Obama credited Plouffe in his acceptance speech, calling him “the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the . . . best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.”[16]


Plouffe went to work as an outside senior adviser to the Obama administration, in January 2009. His book The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory, discussing management strategies and tactics that he used in the 2008 campaign,[17] was published on November 3, 2009 and became a New York Times bestseller. He later issued a video challenge for Obama supporters to buy a copy of his book on December 8, 2009 in order to “Beat Sarah Palin” and her best-selling book for one day.[18][19] He signed with the Washington Speakers Bureau to give paid speeches and plans to engage in non-government consulting work.[20]

In May 2009, Plouffe delivered the convocation address at Cornell University.[21] He spoke about the balance between family time and professional time, and how he had yet to learn exactly how to accomplish an appropriate balance, but hoped to devote more time to his family than he was physically able to during 2007 and 2008.

2011–2013 Senior Advisor to the President

In January 2011, Plouffe joined the White House as Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor. Plouffe replaced David Axelrod as Senior Advisor when Axelrod returned to Chicago to help run President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.[22]

In his role as Senior Advisor, Plouffe led the crafting of White House strategy and communicating the President’s message. After a successful reelection and inauguration of President Obama, Plouffe departed the White House in January 2013. During a national news event, on his final day in the White House, Plouffe was singled out by the President saying, “What people don’t always realize, because he doesn’t like to show it, is the reason he does this stuff is because he cares deeply about people. And he cares about justice, and he cares about making sure that everybody gets a shot in life. And, those values have motivated him to do incredible things, and were it not for him, we would not have been as effective a White House and I probably wouldn’t be here.”[23]

Career after the White House

After leaving the White House in early 2013, Plouffe became a contributor for Bloomberg TV and ABC News.[24]

In April 2013, Plouffe was inducted into the American Association of Political Consultants Hall of Fame.[25]


Plouffe has drawn criticism for his paid speaking engagements abroad while on hiatus from advising Obama. In early 2009, Plouffe spoke in Baku, Azerbaijan for $50,000. The event’s sponsor had ties to the authoritarian government in the country. Following complaints from human rights groups, Plouffe donated his speaking fees to the National Democratic Institute.[26][27]

In December 2010, Plouffe received $100,000 for two speeches in Nigeria from an affiliate of the South African telecommunications company MTN Group. At the time, MTN had been doing business with the government of Iran since 2005. Recently, MTN has come under increased scrutiny by the U.S. for allegations that the Iranian government has used the MTN network in the country to track and monitor dissidents. MTN has been listed on the “Iran Business Registry” of prominent watchdog group United Against Nuclear Iran since 2009.[28]

White House spokesman Eric Schultz explained that Plouffe only spoke to the group about digital communications and cellular technology, and declined to meet with the company’s leadership. Schultz also said the criticism of Plouffe’s speeches before he joined the White House was “misplaced.” [29]

In 2013, in response to Congressman Darrell Issa‘s accusations that the Obama administration knew about the IRS targeting of not-for-profit conservative groups for extra scrutiny, Plouffe tweeted: “Strong words from Mr Grand Theft Auto and suspected arsonist/insurance swindler. And loose ethically today” referring to two incidents in Issa’s past. In 1972, while a teenager, Issa was accused of stealing a Maserati sports car; the charges were later dropped. In 1982, a Cleveland warehouse belonging to Issa burned to the ground. The fire was ruled suspicious and Issa collected an insurance payout, but he was not charged with any crime.[30][31][32][33][34][35]


  • Plouffe, David. The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory, Viking Adult (November 3, 2009); ISBN 978-0-670-02133-8

Personal life

Plouffe is married to Olivia Morgan, a Senior Advisor to Maria Shriver’s A Woman’s Nation, a member of President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities,[36][37] and Director of Federal Relations to Gray Davis when he was governor of California.[38] The couple resides in Washington, D.C. and have a daughter, who was born two days after the 2008 Presidential election, and a son.[39]

See also


  1. “Obama’s Inner Circle”, James A. Barnes, National Journal, 3/31/08
  2. “Obama’s Aide Plouffe”, Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg, 6/16/08
  3. “AKPD MESSAGE AND MEDIA|PARTNERS|DAVID PLOUFFE”. www.akpdmedia.com. Retrieved 2008-04-28.
  4. “Obama Gets Second Chance to Stress Jobs Focus at State of the Union”. Fox News. 2011-01-21.
  5. http://www.wilmu.edu/news/newsArticle.aspx?newsID=438
  6. Financial Post: “Lawrence Solomon: The lost tribe of Obama” by Lawrence Solomon July 13, 2013
  7. Jewish Journal: “‘Gravity’ and the Pew study” By Rob Eshman October 9, 2013
  8. Jewish Virtual Library: “David Plouffe” retrieved October 28, 2013
  9. Leibovich, Mark (February 20, 2012). “Plouffe, Obama Aide, Lends Firm Hand to Campaign”. The New York Times.
  10. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/delawareonline/obituary.aspx?pid=156870306
  11. “David Plouffe”. The Washington Post. January 25, 2013.
  12. “Former McCain, Obama Aides Schmidt and Plouffe Join at University of Delaware”. US News & World Report. October 19, 2009.
  13. Obama’s Aide Plouffe Plots Victory From Background, by Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg.com, June 16, 2008. (url accessed July 4, 2008).
  14. McCormick, John (2008-06-08). “Obama’s campaign chief: low profile, high impact”. The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-06-09.
  15. Kaiser, Robert G. (2008-05-02). “The Player at Bat – David Axelrod, the Man With Obama’s Game Plan, Is Also the Candidate’s No. 1 Fan”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
  16. “Text of Obama’s Acceptance Speech”. The Baltimore Sun. 2008-11-05. Retrieved 2008-11-10.[dead link]
  17. Italie, Hillel (4 February 2009). “Obama campaign manager David Plouffe agrees to 7-figure deal for book”. Associated Press.
  18. David Plouffe Throwback Strategy Challenge
  19. Penguin Books (2009). The Audacity to Win; retrieved October 29, 2009.
  20. Allen, Mike (2008-12-05). “Publishers jump at Plouffe book”. The Politico. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
  21. Obama’s Campaign Manager Set to Speak at Convocation The Cornell Daily Sun
  22. Stone, Daniel (1/7/2011). “David Plouffe, Obama’s Whiz Kid, Returns”. The Daily Beast/Newsweek. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  23. White House, The. “Remarks by the President at a Personnel Announcement”. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  24. Cowie, Amanda (April 25, 2013). “David Plouffe Joins Bloomberg TV”. Bloomberg News. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  25. Gavin, Patrick (April 4, 2013). “David Axelrod, David Plouffe to Hall of Fame”. Politico. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  26. Mark Leibovich (21 February 2012). “From Knife Seller to the President’s Hard Edge”. The New York Times. p. A1. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  27. Kenneth Vogel (12 February 2012). “Plouffe speech in Azerbaijan draws fire”. Politico. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  28. Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten (5 August 2012). “Obama associate got $100,000 fee from affiliate of firm doing business with Iran”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  29. Baker, Peter (8/7/2012). “Aide’s Fees Draw Critics and, Then, Defenders”. The New York Times. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  30. Washington Post: “Plouffe calls Issa ‘Mr. Grand Theft Auto’” By Aaron Blake June 3, 2013
  31. Baltimore Jewish Life: “Plouffe, White House Aides Target Issa” by Bill Hoffmann June 3, 2013
  32. USA Today: “Rep. Issa, Obama aide have war of words” David Jackson June 3, 2013
  33. CNN: “IRS controversy turns personal, nasty” by Jake Tapper June 2, 2013
  34. NPR: “White House-Issa Fight: Nasty But Normal In Washington” by Frank James June 03, 2013
  35. Politico: “David Plouffe rips Darrell Issa ‘loose ethically’” By TAL KOPAN June 3, 2013
  36. “The Shriver Report”. awomansnation.com. Retrieved 2010-05-06.[dead link]
  37. “Olivia Morgan, Washington, DC”. President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.[dead link]
  38. “Olivia Morgan”. The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  39. Cillizza, Chris (2008-11-07). “Plouffe to the Senate?”. Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-11-07.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
David Axelrod
Senior Advisor to the President
Served alongside: Valerie Jarrett
Succeeded by
Daniel Pfeiffer
Preceded by
Pete Rouse