Obama Announces Hill Team

Posted July 7, 2008 at 12:59pm

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) announced Monday the formation of his four-person Congressional liaison team led by the top staffer on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Phil Schiliro.

Schiliro, a Capitol Hill veteran who has worked on and off for years for Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.), the influential chairman of the Oversight panel, will take on the role of senior adviser. Schiliro will head up an outreach organization along with Obama campaign senior counsel Mike Strautmanis, Democratic National Committee Policy Director Karen Richardson and Director of Congressional Affairs Mike Robertson.

Schiliro has served as the top aide on the Government Reform panel since 1997 and has simultaneously served as Waxman’s chief of staff. He also worked briefly in the Senate as the policy director for then-Minority Leader Tom Daschle (S.D.) and as the staff director to the Senate Democratic Leadership Committees.

Daschle is one of Obama’s staunchest allies and the former boss of many of the Illinois Democrat’s top aides.

In announcing the liaison team, the Obama campaign said the group will serve as the primary point of contact for lawmakers and Congressional staff and will ensure that Congress’ “counsel is considered in overall message strategy, campaign planning and execution.”

“Americans cannot afford four more years of President Bush’s policies and our new team in Washington will help us to stay in contact with Members of Congress who know all too well how the divisive politics of the past have impeded progress on measures to move our country in a new direction,” Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said.

Since Obama secured his status as the Democratic presidential nominee in early June, his campaign has been implementing the pieces of its general election strategy. That planning has included creating an official liaison team and putting in place a coordination structure with Congress that includes regular meetings with House and Senate lawmakers and staff.

The presumptive Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), has held similar Member and staff sessions in recent weeks led by his top Hill liaison, John Green.