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Top Biden aides to leave the White House for campaign leadership roles

Former President Donald Trump's rapid consolidation of support in the Republican Party contributed in part to the staffing moves, sources told NBC News.
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s campaign is shaking up its senior leadership, having Jennifer O’Malley Dillon and Mike Donilon move from their roles in the White House to top jobs for his re-election bid, according to campaign officials.

In the coming weeks as the campaign shifts to a general election posture, the expected staff moves will have Donilon playing a central role in the campaign’s messaging and paid media strategy and O’Malley Dillon in the organizing and execution of the campaign’s path to 270 electoral votes — all under the leadership of campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez, the officials said.

Image: Mike Donilon, a senior advisor to President Joe Biden, at the White House in 2021.
Mike Donilon, a senior adviser to President Joe Biden, at the White House in 2021.Drew Angerer / Getty Images file

Chavez Rodriguez said in an interview Tuesday night that she’s “excited to have an all-hands-on-deck approach with colleagues that we know have been critical Biden advisers and were on the 2020 campaign."

She added that the campaign has a clear focus on “what it is that we need to do between now and when it is official who our opponent is going to be.”

“All of that work is well underway and will continue at the clip that we need it to,” she said.

O’Malley Dillon was Biden’s campaign manager in 2020. She has been deputy chief of staff at the White House since Biden became president.

Donilon was a chief strategist for Biden’s 2020 campaign and has been an adviser to the president since he took office in 2021.

Chavez Rodriguez has been campaign manager since last year.

President Biden Departs White House For Japan
Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, and Jennifer O'Malley Dillon, the White House deputy chief of staff, on the South Lawn of the White House on May 17. Al Drago / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Chavez Rodriguez earlier praised Donilon and O’Malley Dillon in a statement, saying that “we’re thrilled to have their leadership and strategic prowess focused full-time” on sending Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris back to the White House for a second term.

In a statement Tuesday night, Biden praised both advisers for talents that he said were instrumental in his 2020 victory, adding that Donilon and O’Malley Dillon “are stepping up one more time to ensure we finish the job for the American people.”

O’Malley Dillon’s new role was meant to be the plan down the road, and it was simply accelerated now because of the shrinking GOP field, a source said. Biden still has confidence in Chavez Rodriguez, the source said.

O’Malley Dillon’s move was first reported by The New York Times.

Jim Messina, who managed President Barack Obama's re-election campaign in 2012, called the campaign staff additions a "smart move."

“This is a smart move by President Biden and Julie — having additional top political aides focus full-time on the re-elect is exactly what you’d expect the White House to do as the general election matchup comes into focus," he said in a statement.

Maria Cardona, a senior adviser to the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement that the moves were a "critical and standard one — to bring trusted and effective leaders onto the campaign ahead of the election as Julie commandeers the troops to victory in November.”

O'Malley Dillon's shift to the re-election campaign was made in part, two sources familiar with the decision said, because former President Donald Trump had consolidated support in the Republican Party faster than anticipated.

Trump prevailed in last week’s Iowa caucuses with a resounding victory, prompting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy to end their White House bids and endorse him. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is now Trump's chief rival as he seeks the Republican nomination.

Trump has already secured the backing of a majority of Senate Republicans.

Results from this month's NBC News/Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll found that three-quarters of likely Republican caucusgoers think Trump can prevail over Biden despite his legal hurdles.