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Posted by on Jun 16, 2008 in Politics | 3 comments

Obama Hires Former Clinton Campaign Manager Patti Solis Doyle


Democratic presumptive Presidential nominee Barack Obama’s campaign is getting the word out that it’s hiring former Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle — as the campaign’s chief of staff to the ticket’s Vice Presidential candidate.

And you KNOW that has gotten the speculative political juices going. The New York Time’s lively The Caucus blog reports:

The Obama campaign is about to make its first big hire out of the campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Patti Solis Doyle, who was Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign manager until she was ousted in a staff shake up in February, will join Mr. Obama’s campaign as the chief of staff to the vice presidential candidate – whoever he (or she) will be, campaign officials said.

Ms. Doyle will take the position before Mr. Obama announces his choice for a running-mate – he has not said when that will be. Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Doyle have a long friendship, and Ms. Doyle has long been one of her closest aides, until she was forced out. Could that mean – tea-leaf reading time – that Mr. Obama is really considering Mrs. Clinton for the No. 2 position, and wants to have an ally of her in place to ease the way? Perhaps.

Or perhaps not. More likely, the Obama campaign was looking for a high-profile spot to put Ms. Doyle, given her previous position, and most of the major roles in Mr. Obama’s campaign are filled.

But the Times’ rightfully hedges the speculation. In fact, this could be read several ways. MORE:

Ms. Doyle’s hire is the latest sign of the two fields in the Democratic Party attempting to come together. She is also – not incidentally – a Hispanic woman, making her a member of two demographics that Mr. Obama has been making a particular effort to appeal to.

But there is a third group, too. Obama needs to win over more women voters, and needs to do better among Latinos — but also clearly needs a strong presence to help him mend fences with Hillary Clinton supporters at a time when a small but vocal group of Clintonistas are making it clear that they are not only rooting for John McCain to defeat Obama in the general election, but that they’ll actively campaign for McCain.

Since there are more ideological differences between McCain supporters and Clinton than between Obama supporters and McCain supporters, it’s clear part of the motivation of these Clinton supporters is (to be blunt) political revenge. Can Solis Doyle help to minimize the group’s attempts to slice off part of a Democratic constituency at the same time when McCain is attempting to get a huge chunk of the slice?

The teeny problem: Solis Doyle was painted as a WEIGHT on the Clinton campaign when she was axed and many felt Clinton’s campaign started to take off once Solis Doyle left. Will her appointment be seen in coming months as a masterstroke or a bit of a stumble? One unquestionable factor: Solis Doyle has a wealth of experience.

Here’s a smattering of reaction to the hire from elsewhere:

Steve Benen in effect says not so fast on the speculation. He points to reports that Clinton and Solis Doyle haven’t spoken since she was booted out — and argues (quite strongly) that this indicates there is LESS CHANCE Clinton will be picked as Obama’s Veep:

For that matter, I thought initially that maybe this could be spun as a “unity” move — the Obama campaign has placed Clinton’s former campaign manager in a prominent position. See? We can all get along!

Except, that doesn’t quite work here, either. Obama won’t get credit for hiring a top Clinton aide who Clinton no longer talks to. As Ben Smith noted, “many” Clinton backers “view Solis Doyle as a bit of a traitor for having signaled that she’d move to Obama before the primary was over.”

Obviously, speculation like this should be taken with a grain of salt, because one would need to be on the inside to fully appreciate the campaign’s thinking. But given today’s news, I think the likelihood of an Obama/Clinton ticket is more remote this afternoon than it was this morning.

The New Republic’s blog agrees with Benen.

Allapundit thinks its a big political mistake:

The obvious read on this is that it’s Obama’s way of luring Hillary supporters, but why would he do that by hiring someone who let her down (and may now be a full-fledged enemy) instead of bringing in, say, Wolfson or Maggie Williams? If there’s a backlash in the media from Clinton loyalists in the next few days, it’s only going to deepen the “party unity, my ass” sentiment and Obama surely knows that. Exit question: What’s this really all about, then? Talk Left notes that Axelrod and Solis Doyle are friends of long standing, so maybe he simply did her a solid by setting her up with a sinecure? That’s one expensive favor if it ends up hardening Hillaryland’s grudge.

The Impolitick’s Libby:

Doyle, you’ll remember was ousted in the big staff purge after the Super Tuesday debacle. I seen some snarking about her competency, but I thought at the time she was scapegoated for Mark Penn’s sins and is probably quite capable.

Oddly she was hired as chief of staff for the as yet unnamed VP candidate, which of course has triggered furious speculation about motives and what this all means in terms of whether Hillary will be the VP pick. I tend to think it means she won’t. Why would Obama hire a person Hillary fired if she was going to be the one? I would think that might be awkward.

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