Hillary Clinton's supporters would like nothing more than to get their hands on the president's huge email list, but Obama's camp is hesitating to turn over the valuable list of millions of supporters and donors whose primary loyalty was to Barack Obama, not the Democratic Party.
"There's a lot of data — voter data, massive email lists — that Obama built and there are a lot of people who want to make sure that he spreads that wealth," an unnamed Clinton ally told The Hill
. "They want to make sure he doesn’t take it in a suitcase back to Chicago and move on. No one wants to see it disappear or have it used just to build a library."
Clinton's backers are saying that a Democratic president would want a member of his own party to succeed him. As it stands now, that person would be Clinton, who holds a double-digit lead in most polls, including over potential Republican nominees, and her supporters say they're surprised Obama would hold back on the list.
According to a Democratic strategist, there is uncertainty about how the discussions will pan out, but said there could be a compromise in which Obama's side sends out emails to all on his own list, and include a link to a site where Clinton's supporters could donate.
The Obama email list, though, has been made available to the nonprofit group Organizing for Action, which is paying just under $5 million to rent the list and campaign data for the next four years, according to tax filings released to The Wall Street Journal
"OFA reached a multi-year agreement through 2016 for use of digital assets for the purpose of issue organizing," said an official with the group about the payments.
But OFA is directly linked to Obama, after being created in 2013 by several top alumni as an offshoot of his 2012 campaign, but operates as a separate entity from his campaign staff. And while several Obama policies have failed, OFA in 2013 alone raised more than $26 million while mobilizing volunteers across the country.
Former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina has said the email list has more than 30 million subscribers. According to the Journal, solicitations through the list helped bring in some $500 million of the $1 billion raised for Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.
Clinton has not officially entered the 2016 race, nor has any other candidate. Obama needs a strong Democratic nominee who could be elected as his successor and cement his own legacy legislation, specifically healthcare reform, Tommy Vietor, a former longtime Obama aide who worked briefly for Clinton during her book rollout last year, told The Hill.
But Obama's direct support may or may not help a Democratic nominee win. Senate Democrats shied away from him in the midterm elections, but the president's ratings are again near 50 percent thanks to the growing economy and shrinking gas prices, reports The Hill.
It is "really going to depend upon where his approval ratings are," said Tobe Berkovitz, a Boston University professor and political communications specialist. "If it’s a wash, I think he will trot out a little, where he is beloved."
And if by 2016 the economy is booming, "Obama will absolutely take full credit for that and the Republicans will be screwed," Berkovitz continued.
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