Monday, March 03, 2008

Hillary's Campaign Disarray

I have commented before on the inexcusable disarray in Hillary Clinton’s campaign and I aulted her for not taking personal control to stop infighting and coordination disputes. SHE is the candidate and, therefore, the buck stops with her and she has failed to take the necessary actions to resolve problems. When one of my former law partners lost his election bid to be Governor of Virginia part of the responsibility lay with his failure to take charge of the campaign and silence ill-advised staffers and consultants. I am in no way implying that it's an easy job running a national campaign, but it is ultimately the candidate's responsibility.
My other concern about Hillary’s campaign is that if she cannot control and coordinate her campaign, what would her presidential administration be like if she were to be actually elected president? The Los Angeles Times has a story (,0,5417931.story) looking at Hillary’s campaign and how it now appears that some of the campaign managers are trying to pass the buck to others as the campaign potentially faces fatal losses tomorrow. All of this is in noted contrast to Obama’s generally smooth functioning and efficient campaign operation. Here are story highlights:

Hillary Clinton may be one of the most disciplined figures in national politics, but she has presided over a campaign operation riven by feuding, rival fiefdoms and second-guessing of top staff members. Those tensions partly explain why Clinton today stands where, just a few months ago, few expected she'd be: struggling to catch up to Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Already, some in Clinton's senior staff are pointing fingers over what went wrong, with some of the blame aimed at Clinton herself. As the race unfolded, neither Clinton nor anyone else resolved the internal power struggles that played out with destructive effect and continue to this day. Joe Trippi, a senior advisor to John Edwards' now-dropped Democratic campaign, said: "At some point the candidate has to step in and bust heads and say 'Enough!' "If there's fighting internally, the candidate has to step up and make it clear what direction she wants to go and stop this stuff dead in its tracks. Otherwise there's going to be a struggle for power and control right until the end. It's crippling."

As the campaign faces a make-or-break moment, some high-level officials are trying to play down their role in the campaign. Penn said in an e-mail over the weekend that he had "no direct authority in the campaign," describing himself as merely "an outside message advisor with no campaign staff reporting to me." "I have had no say or involvement in four key areas -- the financial budget and resource allocation, political or organizational sides. Those were the responsibility of Patti Solis Doyle, Harold Ickes and Mike Henry, and they met separately on all matters relating to those areas." Howard Wolfson, the campaign's communications chief, answered that it was Penn who had top responsibility for both its strategy and message. Another aide said Penn spoke to Clinton routinely about the campaign's message and ran daily meetings on the topic.

Some aides say organizational problems were the most significant, as Obama outworked Clinton in many states and sent in organizers earlier. That problem may go back to well before the lead-off contest, in Iowa. In June, Clinton's Iowa staff requested 150 organizers; headquarters approved a budget for 90. By September, Iowa staff were sending out warnings about Obama's strength. "We are being outnumbered on the ground on a daily basis by his campaign, and it is beginning to show results," said a memo to top campaign officials on Sept. 26, about three months before the state's caucuses.

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