Clinton Replaces Top Aide Amid Losses

The Republican and Democratic presidential candidates make a final appeal to voters before the "Potomac Primaries" of Maryland, Virginia and D.C. on Feb. 12, 2008.
By Anne E. Kornblut and Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, February 11, 2008

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton shook up her presidential campaign yesterday, replacing campaign manager and longtime aide Patti Solis Doyle with Maggie Williams, her former White House chief of staff, in an acknowledgment of the unexpectedly difficult struggle in which she finds herself against Sen. Barack Obama.

The move came on a day when Obama easily won the Maine caucuses, completing a decisive weekend sweep of Democratic contests in four states that gave the senator from Illinois renewed momentum heading into tomorrow's contests in Maryland, Virginia and the District.

The change at the top of the Clinton campaign has been talked about since last month's Iowa caucuses, in which the senator from New York placed third and immediately lost her front-runner status. Still, it came as a surprise to even some senior advisers.

After mounting tensions inside the campaign, fueled by repeated defeats, financial difficulties, inconclusive results on Super Tuesday and Saturday's coast-to-coast trouncing, Doyle told the staff yesterday that she will step aside.

"Patti Solis Doyle has done an extraordinary job in getting us to this point -- within reach of the nomination -- and I am enormously grateful for her friendship and her outstanding work," Clinton said in a statement.

Clinton, effectively tied with Obama in delegates and facing difficult races the rest of this month, is looking to gain any possible advantage to slow her rival's momentum until March 4, when the campaign reaches what her aides believe will be friendlier territory in the Ohio and Texas primaries.

On Thursday, she made an unannounced trip to Chapel Hill, N.C., to seek an endorsement from former senator John Edwards, who gave up his presidential bid last month. Obama is scheduled to meet with Edwards on a similar mission tonight. Yesterday's move by Clinton came after a week in which she revealed that she had lent her cash-strapped campaign $5 million last month.

The removal of Doyle, 42, was portrayed as an amicable one initiated by the campaign manager herself. But it gave credence to what some supporters have said for many weeks -- that the campaign had spent too much money yielding too few results and that fresh management and advice are needed for what could be a long battle against Obama. Doyle did not tell Clinton how rapidly the campaign was burning through money, according to one campaign official, who said Clinton learned about her financial constraints only after the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 8.

Doyle told friends that she long ago had assumed that the Super Tuesday primaries would decide the nomination and that she would then seek a different role. By some accounts, the campaign's January cash crunch undermined her role as manager, and there were tensions with former president Bill Clinton and some of his loyalists.

One senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak freely about the campaign's inner workings, said, "The dissatisfaction -- to the extent there has been -- has not been about money." Asked what the source of dissatisfaction was, this adviser replied, "There is a sense that this is a fatiguing campaign and some new energy primarily was useful."

On the eve of the New Hampshire primary, it appeared that Clinton was ready to replace Doyle and make other changes, but some Clinton loyalists said yesterday that the senator's unexpected victory forestalled widespread changes.

After her win there, the campaign began to expand, with advisers from the Clinton White House and from the Clintons' vast political network recruited to join the campaign's tight inner circle.

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