With all of the recent conversation about Valerie Jarrett, there’s an aspect of her work that still hasn’t received much attention: her impact on the next generation of Washington leadership. This is a critically important role, and something I’ve seen firsthand.
In the second half of 2007, Valerie quite literally saved the Obama presidential campaign. We were hemorrhaging support in the late summer and fall of that year, and a sort of depression was settling in among some field and political staff in early primary states. We lagged far behind Hillary Clinton in many of those contests, even among black voters, who didn’t see the campaign making the types of decisions that indicated we wanted their support.
The last straw was when Congressman John Lewis—the Civil Rights legend—came out in support of Hillary Clinton in October 2007. That announcement dealt a huge blow to our morale internally and to the case that we made to minority voters externally. It was hard to talk about making history when the real history-makers like Lewis weren’t backing you.