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Key Obama ally joins Clinton presidential effort

3:38 PM ET, Jan 23, 2014
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WASHINGTON — A key ally of President Obama has joined a newly revamped Democratic super PAC that plans to advance Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential ambitions.

Jim Messina, who managed Obama's campaign in 2012, will serve as co-chairman of Priorities USA Action, a liberal super PAC that supported the president's re-election with hard-hitting ads that slammed Republican rival Mitt Romney's business record. Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm also will co-chair the group.

"Having played a critical role in 2012, Priorities USA Action has very clearly demonstrated its ability to help elect a Democratic president," Messina said in a statement. He said the group plans to "replicate that role" in two years.

Messina, whose new post has been anticipated for months, is the highest-profile Obama ally to formally join the pro-Clinton effort.

Clinton has not declared whether she will mount a White House bid in 2016. Her supporters, however, are gearing up for her candidacy. Priorities is seeking big checks to fund expensive television advertising on her behalf. Another super PAC, Ready for Hillary, has raised more than $4 million in smaller amounts as it works to build grass-roots support for her campaign.

Thursday's announcement marks the latest step in the relaunch of Priorities as a vehicle to assist Clinton. Earlier this month, another key Obama campaign aide, Buffy Wicks, became the group's executive director. In a statement Thursday, Wicks said the group will "make sure that progressive values are not drowned out by right-wing organizations."

The new developments also highlight the increased coordination among Democratic groups – even as Tea Party, evangelical and business-oriented factions divide the Republican Party ahead of this year's midterm congressional elections.

Allida Black, for instance, a co-founder of Ready for Hillary, now serves on Priorities' 14-member board of directors, as does David Brock, who recently launched a group that seeks to respond quickly to anti-Clinton attacks. Meanwhile, two other super PACs -- the House Majority PAC and the Senate Majority PAC -- are focused on raising money to elect Democrats to the House and Senate.

"There's no master plan, but I see a great deal of cooperation," Steve Mostyn, a major Democratic donor and Texas lawyer with ties to several liberal super PACs, told USA TODAY earlier this month.

Republicans are seizing on all the publicity surrounding Clinton to raise money. A fundraising appeal Thursday from the Republican National Committee asked supporters to contribute $16 each to arm the party "against the Clinton Machine" in 2016.

Follow @fschouten on Twitter.



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