Sunday, February 10, 2008

Patti Solis Doyle steps down as Hillary Clinton Campaign Manager

Less than 24 hours after Barack Obama took all three nominating contests on Saturday, and two days before the Potomac Primary on Tuesday, February that over the next week, 2, Patti Solis Doyle announced that she is stepping down as Hillary Clinton's campaign manager. In a note to her staff, Solis Doyle said that she would remain as a senior adviser to the campaign, but that over the next week Maggie Williams, who served as the Senator's Chief of Staff when she was First Lady "will begin to assume the duties of campaign manager."

Solis Doyle, 42, has been with Ms. Clinton since she was First Lady of Arkansas. In breaking the news to her staff, Ms. Solis Doyle noted that "this has already been the longest Presidential campaign in the history of our nation, and one that has required enormous sacrifices from all of us and our families."

It is certainly understandable - Solis Doyle is the mother of two small children, and she has been living and breathing this campaign for over a year. I can't imagine how exhausted she is right now. I feel wiped out after election day and I am a precinct level 10-hour-a-week-tops volunteer.

Still - even the most ardent supporter has to admit that this development adds to the perception that the wheels are coming off the Clinton campaign bus.

Let me just cut to the chase and tell you how it looks to me...they thought they would have it sewn up by now.

They don't.

Instead, they are in a knife fight with someone who has a lot longer reach than was anticipated going in, and there is a lot of footwork involved in just staying alive, and that leaves precious little time for inflicting any wounds.

Every day the evidence mounts that team Hillary might not be so good at bare knuckle, retail politics as they have been cracked up to be.

Tuesday will be telling, especially after Maine broke strongly for Obama in todays caucuses. The weather was miserable, yet Democrats braved it and stood in lines three blocks long to caucus for their candidates.

Clinton has always gambled on taking Texas and Ohio in March and Pennsylvania in April. If Obama is the overwhelming winner again on Tuesday, the pressure for Clinton to win strong in the remaining big states will ratchet up considerably, and it is already pretty intense.

The narrative that is being promoted by "party insiders" is that Ms. Williams is perceived as better able to deliver those key later states. Williams was brought in to help manage the campaign after the stunning Iowa loss last month. Her presence automatically encroached on the authority of Ms. Solis Doyle.

Her reasons for leaving are all perfectly valid, and I respect them - but in politics timing and perception are everything, and this is pretty lousy timing, and the lousy timing might cloud voter perceptions in the Potomac Primary on Tuesday.

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