Former Vice President Joe Biden is shaking up his flailing 2020 campaign by elevating a former public relations guru to disgraced Hollywood mogul and sex offender Harvey Weinstein.
On Thursday, after canceling public events in New Hampshire and flying back to Delaware, Biden announced Anita Dunn, a former communications director for Barack Obama’s 2008 run, would take a leading roll in his campaign. The move comes after the former vice president finished poorly in the Iowa Caucuses earlier this week, and his campaign has been wracked by internal divisions, as well as fundraising troubles.
Dunn, who was already advising the former vice president on communications, will now be taking a position analogous to campaign manager. It is unclear if this means Greg Schultz, the current campaign manager, has been demoted or if his day-to-day responsibilities have changed. Even though the internal situation is in flux, Dunn’s newfound role within the campaign is sure to be a powerful one, with purview over both strategy and operations.
“She will be working closely with us on campaign strategy and overall coordination on budget and personnel as we build a bigger campaign for the next phase,” the campaign told The New York Times.
The change seems to be an attempt by Biden to reassert control ahead of what is expected to be another public defeat in next week’s New Hampshire primary. Just how much success Dunn will have in turning around the former vice president’s campaign remains to be seen. It’s also uncertain if Dunn’s prior relationship with Weinstein will be a net positive in Biden’s quest to lead a party that has embraced the #MeToo movement.
In October 2017, Dunn quietly began counseling Weinstein on how to conduct damage control around the time his predatory behavior toward young Hollywood starlets, like Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, started to become public. Dunn provided her services pro bono upon the request of a mutual friend, who was well connected in both the entertainment industry and liberal political circles.
After the full extent of Weinstein’s crimes against more than 80 different women came to light, Dunn cut off ties to the movie mogul. She never, though, fully addressed the context of her work with Weinstein.
Regardless, Dunn’s relationship with Weinstein appears to have had no impact upon her standing with America’s political elite. On the day Biden launched his presidential run, Dunn was announced as on the campaign’s preliminary hires. Since then, Dunn has played a leading role in cleaning up the former vice president’s frequent gaffes. Most notably, Dunn emerged as one of Biden’s fiercest public defenders last year when he praised the “civility” of two segregationist Democrats with whom he’d worked to oppose busing.