Monday, February 11, 2008

CAM-PAINS: Is Clinton cut a Latino slight?

Did Hillary R. Clinton make a serious gaffe that could hurt her standing with Hispanic voters when she cut loose her campaign manager?

Clinton replaced her campaign’s chief, Patty Solis Doyle, with her former first lady chief of staff, Maggie Williams. The move came following Democratic opponent Barack Obama’s clean sweep of the weekend primaries and caucuses held in various states and the Virgin Islands, and just before the elections in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia – all of which Obama is favored to win.

Hillary felt the need to follow the lead of many a professional sports team after a crummy season – fire the manager and hope that someone new can put a spark in the same old team. Replacing a campaign manager is an easier and quicker move than having to re-tool the campaign.

But Doyle, the sister of Alderman Danny Solis, had her own benefit to the Clinton campaign – and one that could be put at risk if Hillary is not careful.

Doyle, who has been a supporter of the Clintons since Bill’s first presidential campaign in 1992, is of Mexican descent. Her existence in the campaign’s top spot was always cited by Latino activists as a key factor why so many Hispanic people prefer Hillary to Barack.

I’m not saying that Doyle should have been un-touchable because of her ethnicity. I’m not even claiming that Williams isn’t qualified to run a national campaign for president.

But if the Clinton campaign thinks that replacing Doyle will suddenly turn Hillary into a political juggernaut again, she is even more delusional than generations of baseball clubs that wore the uniform of the Chicago Cubs.

She had better hope that Latino voters do not suddenly see this as a slight against them. Because she still has the Texas primary to get through on March 4, along with primaries in states such as Ohio and Wisconsin that have cities with something resembling Hispanic populations.

If Clinton were to lose her dominance of the Latino vote and become solely the campaign preferred by older women, then we can start right now planning the Barack Obama victory party.

At least she waited until after the Illinois primary. Had Hillary fired Doyle before Feb. 5, it would have become an issue locally and Obama would have taken more than the 52 percent of the Latino vote that he gathered in Illinois.

For those of you who think this sounds petty, be honest. We live in a political world where petty circumstances become major catastrophes all too frequently. It could happen.

What other noteworthy issues are coming up on the campaign trail as we here in Illinois try to recover from our own elections?

GRAMMYS: Barack Obama received his second Grammy Award.

The audio version of “The Audacity of Hope” received honors for “best spoken-word recording,” and some reports are making an issue out of the fact that Obama beat out former President Bill Clinton in that category.

Personally, I have to wonder just how much Obama’s political celebrity status swayed the judges. I haven’t heard the recording, but I know the book itself can be vapid at points as Obama tries to lay out in detail his government philosophy – even though some might suspect he hasn’t fully developed that philosophy in his own mind.

I also know that the actual compact disc set for his first book, “Dreams from My Father,” is a long, long, long set (six discs that take up 7.5 hours of time). How many people have ever seriously listened to the whole thing?

Personally, I skipped straight to the end of the last disc, where as a bonus feature, Random House included audio of the roughly 20-minute speech to the 2004 Democratic National Convention where Obama “made his bones” politically.

EDGAR ANTICS: Former Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar wants Hillary Clinton to get the Democratic nomination for president. He figures that is John McCain’s best chance of uniting the various factions that comprise the Republican Party.

Obama presents too qualified a candidate, and one who might actually unite people instead of splitting them up. The government professional in Edgar, who is still with the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government & Public Affairs, respects Obama, but not enough to get him to switch political parties and vote Democrat.

Of course, the people who most are disgusted with McCain are also the types who thought Edgar was too moderate and “Chicago oriented” as governor, even though many politically oriented Chicagoans will always remember Edgar as “Gov. No” because he supposedly rejected everything they ever asked for from state government.


EDITOR’S NOTES: The Chicago Sun-Times included a copy of Doyle’s letter of resignation (,sweet021008.article) along with their story about the switch.

Jim Edgar gave his plug to Obama as a government official and Clinton as a candidate ( during a speech last week at the Sangamo Club in Springfield, Ill.

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