Evening with Patti Solis-Doyle
by ademption, Tue Oct 16, 2007 at 07:28:40 PM EDT
This evening I attended a talk with Hillary Clinton's campaign manager Patti Solis-Doyle at George Washington University. Patti spoke for about 40 minutes about her biography, her work for the campaign and where she sees the campaign headed.
She first started her speech, discussing the lessons she has learned over the years. She weaved portions of her biography with the lessons learned.
First, she said that you must keep an open mind; opportunities arise when you keep your options open. She then described how she first began working with Hillary Clinton. In the early 90s, she lived in Chicago and was a scheduler for Mayor Daley's office. Someone that she knew in Daley's office began working with the 1992 Clinton campaign and suggested that Patti come to Arkansas and work with Bill Clinton.
Her friend said that most likely Clinton wouldn't win the nomination so the job wouldn't last that long--3 months tops and that working for the Clinton campaign would be a nice addition to her resume. So, Patti decided to go down to Arkansas and work for the candidate Bill Clinton. When she got down there, the campaign thought it was great that she had experience as a scheduler and told her that Hillary needed a scheduler to help her meet the demands of campaigning for Bill, along with taking care of Chelsea etc. Patti wasn't that thrilled that she was going to work for the candidate's wife, instead of the presidential candidate. She then went on to make the point that her life has come full circle b/c little did she know that she would be working for a presidential candidate.
Anyway, Patti said that Hillary and she developed a good rapport from the start. They both came from Chicago and Patti really appreciated Hillary's attempts to preserve a balance b/w the campaign and work. In fact, one of the first things that Hillary told her was that she needed to work hard during the weekday, b/c she wanted to spend time with Chelsea during evenings/weekends while Bill's 1992 campaign was going on. Patti then went on to say that HRC is a good person with whom to work. As with Patti who moved up from scheduler to now the campaign manager of her presidential campaign, Hillary sees young talent and tries to nurture it.
Patti's second life lesson is no matter where you go, never forget where you came from. She then outlined her family history. Her father was an illegal immigrant from Mexico, who was deported 2x. He only received a third grade education. Her father worked 3 jobs and her mother 2 jobs to provide for their family and to earn money to send Patti and her siblings to Catholic school. Patti admitted that she came from the "hood" as she described it.
The third life lesson was to have confidence in yourself and be prepared. She then described her work experience as the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton's campaign. She told the audience that people in HRC's campaign have very strong personalities and they often have opinions which they disagree with each other. She said that was fine. Hillary prefers hearing divergent viewpoints and then making decisions based upon the best argument. However Patti made it clear that it was her role to resolve these differences and make a decision as to the direction of the campaign.
The fourth life lesson was to always be there for people who are there for you. She then discussed Hillaryland. She said that Hillaryland is like a family. She would take a bullet for Hillary or anyone else in the campaign and vice versa. She said that it's a very nurturing place....
The fifth life lesson was don't ever get cocky. She then said that the polls have been good for the campaign lately. However, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN. She then said that she wasn't running a frontrunner's campaign. In fact, Hillary would fire her if she ran a frontrunner's campaign. She wanted the campaign to stay focused and wake up every morning like they are several points down in the polls. She then went on to ask the audience to please volunteer to help the campaign. She said that they could use all the help that they could get....
The sixth life lesson was to never lose sight of what you're working for. She described the difficulty of balancing her daily work schedule with finding time to be with her family, especially her children. Patti said that she works about 18-20 hours every day. However, she has a commitment of coming home early a few nights of the week to spend a few hours with her family and tuck her children into bed. After this brief respite, she goes back to headquarters and work on the campaign VERY late. It's truly extraordinary the time commitment that these campaign workers are giving to these campaigns. Understandably, she relies heavily on coffee. She then told the audience that the reason why she's investing so much of her time in this campaign was for the future of her children. She then told us about how her 9 year old daughter after seeing some article about Hillary in a newspaper, said that she wanted to run for president when she grew up just like Hillary. That's what she's working for....
Finally, the last life lesson was that politics is not a spectator sport; you must get involved. She then encouraged members of the audience to go to headquarters and to please help with phone banking etc. She then described ways that volunteers could get involved in the campaign, including going to early states and working in Iowa, New Hampshire etc. The main thrust of her speech was to get involved in the campaign. She repeated this theme several times throughout her talk at GW.
Patti then took several questions from audience members. GW had set up a microphone where people could stand in line to ask questions. She wanted to keep the event informal and just called on people who raised their hands while seated.
She got a few questions about the Florida/Michigan primaries, the primary system in general etc. Patti said that Hillary was disappointed that she couldn't campaign in Florida and Michigan. If Hillary was fortunate enough to win the nomination, she would immediately race to Florida and Michigan and start campaigning there. It seemed very important to her, b/c she repeated the campaign's intentions of aggressively campaigning in those states when the primaries were over several times.
She got one question about the strategy for campaigning between the time when the primary is over and the conventions. She first said that she wasn't counting her chickens before they were hatched. But that the campaign would commit malpractice if they weren't at least thinking about planning for the primaries' aftermath. She said if we're lucky to win the nomination, we will start very quickly to get offices opened, staffing etc.
An audience member asked her to respond to the allegations that Obama made on his website today about HRC's fundraising. Patti said that she was proud of their fundraising. She then said that she would be nice and asked whatever happened to the politics of hope?
Someone else asked her about Mark Penn and how could HRC employ someone whose company performed work for Blackwater? Patti said that Mark Penn has worked for the Clintons for a long time. He's a valued employee. It was impossible for a CEO (Mark Penn) of a multiglomerate to know everything that goes on. He has created a a wall (basically a screen) and that he hadn't worked on the Blackwater project. She then went on to say that Mark's a friend and he gets a lot of credit for where the campaign is going. She then repeated that he's a valuable member of the team.
Another audience member asked what HRC would look for in a vice presidential candidate. Patti replied that it was too soon for her to have talked about that with Hillary. But she then said that knowing Hillary for 16 years, Hillary would pick a vice president that could be ready to be president if she became incapicitated.
There were more questions but those I discussed were the main highlights. I was really impressed by Patti. She seemed very humble, sincere, genuine. She wasn't showy at all. She had a quiet confidence about her which was really impressive. She could have bragged about how well she had run the campaign, but she didn't. She made it clear SEVERAL times throughout the speech that Hillary's nomination was not a given. That we, the audience members/her supporters had to volunteer and help the campaign ensure a victory. All in all, it was a great event!!