Biden bolsters campaign with two top White House aides as focus turns to the general election

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President Joe Biden speaks during an event on the campus of George Mason University in Manassas, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, to campaign for abortion rights, a top issue for Democrats in the upcoming presidential election. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTONPresident Joe Biden is dispatching two of his senior-most White House advisers to bolster his Delaware-based reelection campaign as his focus shifts to the general election in November.

The moves of his deputy chief of staff Jen O'Malley Dillon, his 2020 campaign manager, and senior adviser Mike Donilon to the campaign had been expected, and campaign aides insisted it was not a sign of a broader shakeup. Though some prominent Democrats had expressed worries about Biden’s operation in Wilmington, campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez is keeping her role. The announcement comes on the same day as the New Hampshire primary, where former President Donald Trump cemented his hold on core Republican voters with a victory there and Biden scored a write-in win in a race he wasn't even formally contesting.

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Biden in a statement, praised the aides, saying he was "grateful that in rejoining the campaign, they are stepping up one more time to ensure we finish the job for the American people.”

An aide said the staffing shifts allow the aides, who have been key to managing Biden’s political activities and messaging inside the White House, to take on more overtly political roles on the campaign ahead of an expected campaign against Trump.

Biden's campaign jumped on the New Hampshire results to embrace the likely rematch with Trump, believing their path to victory in November lies in clarifying the choice for voters between the two men.

“Tonight’s results confirm Donald Trump has all but locked up the GOP nomination, and the election denying, anti-freedom MAGA movement has completed its takeover of the Republican Party," said Chavez Rodriguez in a statement.

The staffing moves were in part meant to quell unease among some Democrats that the campaign wasn't fully prepared for the upcoming race against Trump, with the timing of the announcement meant to signal the start of a more forceful general election effort as Trump closes in on the GOP nomination. Still, aides said not to expect a dramatic shift, as many voters are still not paying attention to the race ten months from Election Day.

Donilon is among Biden’s longest-serving and closest aides and has been central to developing Biden’s argument that democracy is at stake as the president expects to face off against Trump once again.

“Mike played a critical role as the Chief Strategist of my 2020 campaign to beat Donald Trump and restore the Soul of the Nation, and his return to the campaign will ensure that we win in 2024,” Biden said.

O’Malley Dillon has become a trusted adviser to Biden since she was brought in to help run his general election bid in 2020 and then at the White House overseeing politics and operations.

“She played a key role in every Democratic presidential victory over the past two decades and now she’ll dedicate her immense talents to guiding our campaign to victory again in 2024,” Biden said.

The campaign said Donilon would focus on advertising and strategy, while O’Malley Dillon would work on organizing and the electoral mechanics.

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

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