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February 11, 2008
A Campaign in Trouble
Suffering 4 major defeats this past weekend and with the probability of taking it on the chin in three other contests on Tuesday, a desperate Hillary Clinton has fired her long time campaign manager and replaced her with one of her oldest political hands:
Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton replaced campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle with longtime aide Maggie Williams on Sunday, a staff shake-up coming just hours after presidential rival Barack Obama’s Saturday sweep of three contests. Williams served as chief aide to Clinton while Bill Clinton was President. She briefly achieved some noteriety when she was caught up in the Johnny Chung fundraising scandal:
Campaign aides said Solis Doyle made the decision to leave on her own and was not urged to do so by the former first lady or any other senior member of the team.
But it comes as Clinton struggles to catch Obama in fundraising and momentum and faces the prospect of losing every voting contest yet to come in February.
On Sunday, Obama also won the caucus count in Maine.
Solis Doyle announced the shift in an e-mail to the staff on Sunday. “I have been proud to manage this campaign and prouder still to call Hillary my friend for more than 16 years,” Solis Doyle wrote. “Maggie is a remarkable person and I am confident that she will do a fabulous job.”
Hillary Clinton’s top aide, Maggie Williams, was spending the day there in March 1995, when California businessman Johnny Chung walked into her White House office one morning and handed her a check for $50,000. It was just “a rather unusual circumstance,” Clinton explained last week. She didn’t actually ask Chung for the money as the price of admission to sit in on the President’s radio address two days later. She wasn’t “receiving” contributions on federal property; she was just passing them along. And she certainly didn’t “solicit” them, which federal law forbids. It is hard to see what Williams can do at this point that Solis failed to achieve. Apparently, there were whispers that Solis overspent in Iowa which forced Clinton to lend the campaign $5 million recently. But the campaign has raised $10 million since Super Tuesday so it appears that there is still plenty of support for Hillary out there.
Or does it? Or did she? Chung’s lawyer, Brian Sun, told TIME that Chung had approached Williams’ aide Evan Ryan the day before, hoping to arrange a cozy lunch in the White House mess for some Chinese businessmen and a later meeting with the First Lady. Somehow the subject turned to Democratic Party needs. Ryan remarked that the President’s party had to cover the costs of political events held by the First Lady at the White House, although Ryan “does not recall” that conversation. So Chung came back the next day and handed Williams that “unsolicited” $50,000 check for the Democratic National Committee. (HT: Michelle Malkin)
More likely, the change is related to atmospherics rather than substance. For the staff, it's almost like starting over which could mean a re-energizing of the campaign. Goodness knows Hillary needs it. It is likely she will be 0-7 following tomorrow night's "Potomac Primaries" in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. - all three of which Obama is expected to win handily.
The latest RCP delegate count has Obama up by 4 - 1139-1134. Even with big wins tomorrow night, Obama is not expected to shoot too far into the lead thanks to the proportional awarding of delegates in all three contests.
But Clinton is in danger of being perceived as an also ran. This could cause a stampede among Superdelegates to Obama which would torpedo her campaign and cause her to throw in the towel. However, this scenario isn't likely until after the March 4 primaries in Ohio, Texas, Vermont, and Rhode Island. A sweep by Obama there, even though Clinton won't be behind by more than a couple of hundred delegates - will almost certainly swing most of the Super Delegates his way and end the race rather abruptly.