UK Conservatives hire Obama campaign strategist

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s governing Conservatives have hired Jim Messina, President Barack Obama’s former campaign manager, to advise them ahead of the 2015 general election.

Messina was Obama’s national chief of staff for the 2008 presidential campaign and the president’s campaign manager in 2012. His organizational flair and social media strategy have been credited for helping secure Obama’s re-election.

Messina is now chairman of a nonprofit called Organizing for Action and head of consulting firm The Messina Group.

Messina said Friday that he had “long admired Prime Minister (David) Cameron” and would be offering the Conservatives “strategic campaign advice.” He said he would remain based in the United States and would not manage day-to-day political operations.

The Conservatives currently govern in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, but hope to win a parliamentary majority in 2015. Their challenge is to gain re-election at a time when Britain’s economy is only weakly recovering from the recession triggered by the 2008 global financial crisis.

Under Cameron, the party combines conservative economic policies such as privatization and spending cuts, with a liberal stance on issues like same-sex marriage, which Britain recently legalized.

The BBC reported Friday that Messina will advise Conservative chiefs and the party’s campaign strategist, Lynton Crosby. Since hiring Crosby — a veteran Australian political operator nicknamed the “Wizard of Oz” — in November, the Conservatives have appeared to take a tough stance on issues such as immigration in order to win support away from rivals on the right.

This is not the first time the Conservatives have turned to U.S. Democrats for advice. Cameron hired Obama adviser Anita Dunne to help him prepare for televised debates during the 2010 election

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