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Even in Victory, Clinton Team Is Battling Itself

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If Solis Doyle was like Clinton's daughter, Williams was like her sister. She let aides vent and express their views, but then quickly made decisions. She impressed aides and supporters looking for a stronger hand. "Maggie said, 'I am ready for this fight,' and the room burst out into applause," Robert Zimmerman, a top Clinton fundraiser, recalled of her introduction to supporters via speakerphone. "It reflected the desire to see the campaign really engage in an aggressive issue debate."

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She inherited a campaign well behind Obama in upcoming states. "Until we got to the 6th or 7th of February, there was no Hillary Clinton campaign in Wisconsin or most other states," said Joe Wineke, chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party. Obama outspent Clinton on the air in Wisconsin by $1.5 million to $300,000, he said, and scored a strong victory on Feb. 19.

For all their conflicts, senior Clinton advisers agreed that the campaign hit rock bottom in Wisconsin. Only after that did the team, tattered and exhausted, begin to pick itself up. News of Clinton's loan to her campaign touched off a frenzy of Internet fundraising as supporters who assumed she had enough money rushed to contribute, the first success she has had in the sort of grass-roots fundraising Obama has mastered.

In Austin on Feb. 21, Clinton had a solid debate performance, although her aides groaned as she accused Obama of offering "change you can Xerox." The line, advisers said, was offered during debate preparation by Bruce Reed, a Clinton White House official, but onstage it came across as forced and drew boos.

In the end, ironically, it was male voters who saved Clinton. A confluence of factors in the final 10 days -- her advertising strategy, her renewed communications push, her shaken-up team -- restored her in one of her weakest demographics in Ohio and Texas. Her victories quieted talk both inside and outside the campaign that she should drop out.

Yet renewal has come so late that advisers worry it may be too difficult to overtake Obama. "There was an arrogant attitude on the part of the campaign for many months," one lamented. "And now we're in a fight for our lives."

Staff writer Matthew Mosk contributed to this report.


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