Robby Mook

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Robby Mook
Mook 2016 (cropped).jpg
Personal details
Born (1979-12-03) December 3, 1979 (age 39)
Sharon, Vermont, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationColumbia University (BA)

Robert E. Mook (/mʊk/; born December 3, 1979) is an American former political campaign strategist and campaign manager. He was the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton's unsuccessful 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.

In the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Mook drew criticism for his campaign strategy and tactics, specifically his reliance on data analytics despite advice from campaign teams in battleground states.[1]

Early life[edit]

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.[2] 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.[3][4] Both are now retired.[citation needed]

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.[3][4] Mook graduated from Columbia University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in Classics.[4][5][6] Mook also served in the United States Senate Page program.[3]


Robby Mook Get out the vote leaflet for the 2006 Maryland campaign

Political campaigns[edit]

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.[3][6] 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.[4]

Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, 2008[edit]

Mook joined Hillary Clinton's 2008 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.[4][7] 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.[8] After the 2010 House of Representatives elections, where the Democrats lost the majority, Mook was named executive director.[9] In the 2012 House of Representatives elections, he aided the Democrats in gaining eight seats,[7] though Democrats had aimed for the 25 seats needed to retake the majority.[6]

Terry McAuliffe[edit]

Mook during the campaign for the Maryland gubernatorial election, 2006

In 2013, Mook left the DCCC and was named the campaign manager of Terry McAuliffe's gubernatorial campaign.[5][7] That year, Politico named Mook one of their "50 Politicos to Watch."[10] Mook led McAuliffe's campaign to victory.[11] 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.[12]

Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, 2016[edit]

In January 2015, Clinton hired Mook and Joel Benenson as strategists.[13] Upon the April 2015 announcement of Clinton's 2016 campaign for president, Mook was introduced as Clinton's campaign manager.[14][15] 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).[16] 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."[17] A group of about 150 young political operatives close to Mook became known as the "Mook Mafia."[17][18]

Mook was the one who negotiated with Bernie Sanders' campaign and won support for Clinton.[19]

During the campaign, Donna Brazile commented on Mook's micro-tagging of voters based on purchasing preferences and how it "missed the big picture".[20]

In the aftermath of the campaign, former staffers and political pundits criticized Mook for actions taken during the campaign. In particular, they faulted what they considered his excessive focus on data analytics, while neglecting feedback from campaign teams in battleground states.[21][1]


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.[22]

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[23] saying that the partnership was a marketing strategy that had not been approved by Mook or Lewandowski. Mook fired the firm as a result.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Mook was the first openly gay manager of a major presidential campaign.[25][26] In September 2017, Mook was announced as Harvard Institute of Politics' 2017-2018 Visiting Fellow.[27][28]


  1. ^ a b Kakutani, Michiko (April 17, 2017). "'Shattered' Charts Hillary Clinton's Course Into the Iceberg". New York Times. New York City: New York Times Company. Retrieved February 20, 2019. As described in Shattered, Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook — who centered the Clinton operation on data analytics (information about voters, given to him by number crunchers) as opposed to more old-fashioned methods of polling, knocking on doors and trying to persuade undecideds — made one strategic mistake after another, but was kept on by Clinton, despite her own misgivings.
  2. ^ Hongoltz, Matt (January 31, 2016). "Hanover — Sitting in front of the Christmas tree in the living room Friday evening, among the plates of baguettes". Retrieved May 17, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Heintz, Paul (September 18, 2013). "Take Back Virginia? Old Dominion Dems Are Counting on Vermont-Born Robby Mook". Seven Days. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e Gonzales, Nathan L. (August 2, 2010). "DCCC Turns to Mook's Ground Game for Fall". The Rothenberg Political Report. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Robby Mook". The Washington Post. September 26, 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c "Political Strategist". Columbia College Today. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c Hunt, Albert R. (July 14, 2013). "Virginia Campaign Could Lift Strategist to Stardom". The New York Times. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  8. ^ Cillizza, Chris. "The Fix – House Democrats expand 2010 campaign team". Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  9. ^ Bentz, Leslie (December 6, 2010). "DCCC names Robby Mook as executive director". Political Ticker. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  10. ^ Burns, Alexander (July 19, 2013). "50 Politicos to Watch: Robby Mook". Politico. Arlington County, Virginia: Capitol News Company. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  11. ^ Allen, Jonathan (December 22, 2014). "The Man Poised to Guide Hillary Clinton's Presidential Campaign". Bloomberg. New York City. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  12. ^ Evans, Garrett (January 8, 2015). "Favorite emerges for Clinton campaign". TheHill. Washington, DC: Capitol Hill Publishing Corp. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  13. ^ Haberman, Maggie (January 7, 2015). "Hillary Clinton brings in Robby Mook, Joel Benenson for likely teame". Politico. Arlington County, Virginia: Capitol News Company. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  14. ^ Karni, Annie (April 12, 2015). "Hillary Clinton formally announces 2016 run". Politico. Arlington County, Virginia: Capitol News Company. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  15. ^ Helmore, Edward (April 11, 2015). "Can the geek who hates the spotlight guide Hillary to the White House?". The Guardian. London, England: Guardian Media Group. Retrieved April 12, 2015.
  16. ^ Meyer, Theodoric (July 16, 2015). "Rubio's campaign manager tops early salary list". Politico. Arlington County, Virginia: Capitol News Company. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  17. ^ a b Tumulty, Karen (February 19, 2016). "In Nevada, Clinton's campaign manager faces his biggest test". Washington Post. Washington DC: Nash Holdings LLC. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  18. ^ Blake, Aaron (November 14, 2014). "The Hillary 2016 campaign infighting begins even before the Hillary 2016 campaign begins". Washington Post. Washington DC: Nash Holdings LLC. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  19. ^ Graphics, News. "Robby Mook, campaign manager | Election 2016: Hillary Clinton's Inner Circle". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  20. ^ 1959-, Brazile, Donna,. Hacks : the inside story of the break-ins and breakdowns that put Donald Trump in the White House (First ed.). New York, NY. pp. 54 to 55, 86. ISBN 9780316478519. OCLC 1007319949.
  21. ^ Dovere, Edward-Isaac (December 14, 2016). "How Clinton lost Michigan — and blew the election". Politico. Arlington County, Virginia: Capitol News Company. Retrieved February 20, 2019. The anecdotes are different but the narrative is the same across battlegrounds, where Democratic operatives lament a one-size-fits-all approach drawn entirely from pre-selected data — operatives spit out “the model, the model,” as they complain about it — guiding Mook’s decisions on field, television, everything else.
  22. ^ Nakashima, Ellen (July 18, 2017). "Former Clinton and Romney campaign chiefs join forces to fight election hacking". Washington Post. Washington DC: Nash Holdings LLC. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
  23. ^ Nelson, Louis (January 25, 2017). "Agency that advertised joint Mook, Lewandowski speaking engagements pulls web page down". Politico. Arlington County, Virginia: Capitol News Company. Retrieved March 19, 2017.
  24. ^ Sherman, Jake (January 27, 2017). "MOOK DITCHES LEADING AUTHORITIES". Politico. Arlington County, Virginia: Capitol News Company. Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  25. ^ Kroll, Andy; Caldwell, Patrick (April 9, 2015). "Robby Mook just took the hardest job in politics: saving the Clintons from themselves". Mother Jones. San Francisco, California: Foundation for National Progress. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
  26. ^ McDonald, James (April 20, 2015). "Five Things We Know About Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton's Openly Gay Campaign Manager". Out Magazine. San Francisco, California: Here Media. Retrieved July 3, 2015.
  27. ^ “What is a visiting fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics?” ‘’Boston Globe’’, September 15, 2017
  28. ^ Harvard IOP listing for Robby Mook

External links[edit]