Mook in 2016
Robert E. Mook|
December 3, 1979
Sharon, Vermont, U.S.
|Alma mater||Columbia University|
Robert E. Mook (//; born December 3, 1979) is an American former political campaign strategist and campaign manager. He was the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. He is currently a CNN political commentator.
Mook worked on state campaigns, leading up to Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign. Mook then joined the Democratic National Committee, and worked for Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign as a state director in three states.
Mook managed Senator Jeanne Shaheen's campaign as she ran in New Hampshire for election to the U.S. Senate in the fall of 2008, served as the executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2012, and as the campaign manager for Terry McAuliffe's successful 2013 gubernatorial campaign.
Mook was born in Sharon, Vermont, the son of Kathryn and Delo Mook, and was raised in nearby Norwich, across the river from Hanover, New Hampshire. His father was a physics professor at Dartmouth College in Hanover, and his mother was a hospital administrator at Dartmouth–Hitchcock Medical Center, in nearby Lebanon, New Hampshire. Both are now retired.
Mook attended Hanover High School, where Matt Dunne, a member of the Vermont House of Representatives, served as the theater director. Dunne met Mook when he auditioned for a school play, and Mook volunteered for Dunne's re-election campaign. Mook graduated from Columbia University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in Classics. Mook also served in the United States Senate Page program.
During the summer after Mook's freshman year at Columbia, Dunne hired Mook as the first paid staffer for the Vermont Democratic House Campaign, working to elect Democrats to the Vermont House. Mook worked as a field director during the 2002 Vermont gubernatorial election, which the Democrats lost. He served as deputy field director during Dean's 2004 presidential campaign in Wisconsin and New Hampshire. He joined the Democratic National Committee after Dean lost the nomination to John Kerry, serving as director of the get out the vote effort in Wisconsin during the general election. He worked for David W. Marsden, managing a campaign that lost a Republican-held seat in the Virginia House of Delegates in 2005. In 2006, he coordinated the campaigns of Martin O'Malley, who defeated incumbent Bob Ehrlich in the Maryland gubernatorial election, and Ben Cardin, who defeated Michael Steele to win the United States Senate election.
Mook joined Hillary Clinton's 2008 Democratic primary presidential campaign in 2007. He served as the campaign's state director for Nevada, Indiana, and Ohio. Clinton won the popular vote in all three states. Mook then managed Jeanne Shaheen's successful campaign for the United States Senate that fall. Mook joined the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in 2009 as their political director, and was named independent expenditure director of the DCCC in May 2010. After the 2010 House of Representatives elections, where the Democrats lost the majority, Mook was named executive director. In the 2012 House of Representatives elections, he aided the Democrats in gaining eight seats, though Democrats had aimed for the 25 seats needed to retake the majority.
In 2013, Mook left the DCCC and was named the campaign manager of Terry McAuliffe's gubernatorial campaign. That year, Politico named Mook one of their "50 Politicos to Watch." Mook led McAuliffe's campaign to victory. He worked for McAuliffe's political action committee as well as the Virginia Progress PAC, helping in the reelection campaign of Senator Mark Warner in 2014.
Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, 2016
In January 2015, Clinton hired Mook and Joel Benenson as strategists. Upon the April 2015 announcement of Clinton's 2016 campaign for president, Mook was introduced as Clinton's campaign manager. In 2015, Mook was paid by the campaign at an annual rate of $121,000, which is somewhat lower than other presidential campaign managers and similar to that of other top Clinton staffers (such as communication director Jennifer Palmieri, finance director Dennis Cheng, and national political director Amanda Renteria). According to the Washington Post, as Clinton's campaign manager Mook won praise "both inside the campaign and among Clinton's vast circle of second-guessers, for the airtight and drama-free campaign he has built." A group of about 150 young political operatives close to Mook became known as the "Mook Mafia."
During the campaign, Donna Brazile commented on Mook's micro-tagging of voters based on purchasing preferences and how it "missed the big picture". In the aftermath of the campaign, former staffers and political pundits criticized Mook for actions taken during the campaign. In particular, they faulted his excessive focus on data analytics and a management style that appeared to impair other staffers' access to critical information. After the campaign, New York Times reporter Amy Chozick stated that Mook had mocked former President Bill Clinton for urging the campaign to touch base with the white working class in the upper Midwestern battleground states such as Wisconsin and Michigan, using a Grandpa Simpson voice to spoof the former President.
In 2017, in response to Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election Mook, together with Matt Rhoades, started the "Defending Digital Democracy" initiative at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School.
In January 2017, Leading Authorities, a Washington, D.C.–based speaker's bureau, falsely announced that Mook had teamed with Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to offer insights into the 2016 race. After Mook and Lewandowski questioned the announcement, Leading Authorities released a statement saying that the partnership was a marketing strategy that had not been approved by Mook or Lewandowski. Mook fired the firm as a result.
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