It's caucus day in Iowa, where turnout is destiny. Barack Obama rode unprecedented levels of support in 2008 to his shock victory over Hillary Clinton. This time, it's Donald Trump—still can't believe I'm writing that name—counting on a big turnout to notch a win in the first contest of the 2016 presidential battle royale.
Hillary Clinton, looking to exorcise the ghosts of '08, needs a good—but not great—turnout by her supporters to beat back a surging Bernie Sanders (another turn of phrase I never expected to type). It just so happens that Clinton's campaign manager, Robby Mook, is an expert in getting out the vote. A boyish, press-shy physicist's son, Mook is one of the best organizers in the upper rungs of the Democratic Party. As my colleague Pat Caldwell and I wrote last April for Mother Jones, Mook has all the skills necessary to prevent another Clinton meltdown in the primary fight.
Robby Mook Just Took the Hardest Job in Politics: Saving the Clintons From Themselves
The "drum-circle weirdo" guiding Hillary Clinton's next presidential campaign.
Mother Jones | April 9, 2015
ROBBY MOOK AWOKE on November 14, 2014, with a knife in his back.
At 6:01 that morning, ABC News published what it billed as a juicy scoop revealing the existence of a loyal, clubby group of Democratic staffers who called themselves the "Mook Mafia," so named for the star political operative, who was then a leading contender to run Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. In leaked emails, Mook, the group's self described "Deacon," urged his friends to "smite Republicans mafia-style." Mook's on-again, off-again colleague Marlon Marshall—a.k.a. "Most High Grown Ass Reverend Marlon D"—echoed his friend's bro-ish, mock-dramatic tone. "F U Republicans," he wrote to the list. "Mafia till I die."
ABC didn't name its source but described the person as a Mook Mafia list member who "does not support the idea of Mook or Marshall holding leadership roles" in a second Clinton presidential run. By leaking a cherry-picked series of emails, this source sought to knock Mook out of the running for the campaign manager job. Clinton's campaign was still in the earliest stages, and the infighting had already begun.
But the attempt to kneecap Mook backfired. Instead, the episode illustrated the dysfunctional, cutthroat atmosphere surrounding the Clintons and underscored the need for a campaign chief who could manage the competing factions within Hillary Clinton's universe. Embarrassing though the leak may have been, it bolstered the case for Mook, who's known for inspiring loyalty and handling outsize egos, to take the reins of Clinton 2016.
Within days, Clinton is expected to officially launch her next presidential bid—and Mook will be her campaign manager. He has the formidable task of repackaging perhaps the most widely known and picked-over public figure in modern politics and convincing a weary electorate that she should lead the country for the next four years. He will have to hold together the many tribes and fiefdoms within the Clinton community, while sidestepping—and surviving—the sort of backstabbing that felled his predecessors.