The Obama campaign announced today what had long been suspected: Hillary Clinton's former campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle was going to work for the Illinois Democrat. What came as a surprise was Solis Doyle's title, "chief of staff to the vice presidential candidate."
The move was seen as shrewd but potentially controversial. Solis Doyle was let go by Clinton because of what was widely regarded as poor campaign and financial management. But she still is a prominent Hispanic figure with ties to the former first lady -- attributes that could endear Obama to a sought-after political constituency.
One thing the move does suggest, insiders believe, is that Hillary Clinton's chances of being tapped for the vice presidency are now slim to nil.
"This alone means that Hillary won't be the V.P. choice," wrote one.
According to two close Clinton confidantes, the Senator and Solis Doyle have not spoken since her firing months ago. And there is a sense that bad blood lingers between the two. Some officials in Clinton's orbit were disappointed, if not angered, by the fact that Solis Doyle had been in touch with the Obama campaign about possibly coming on board. Solis Doyle, meanwhile, is rumored to have felt particularly scapegoated by her firing.
Said one individual with knowledge of the Clinton campaign's political leanings: "It would be pretty awkward if Hillary Clinton were picked as vice president and Patti was there to be her chief of staff."
Indeed, while on the surface it may seem that hiring Solis Doyle would provide a soft landing for Clinton to be brought in as V.P., others see her hiring as simply a logical political move.
"Patti knows that world certainly and knows the kinds of things the vice president would do because she saw it so much in the White House," said a source. "She is from Chicago and she knows all those folks. I knew she had visited with them and she wants to get on with her life too."
But time does heal wounds and in politics a shared objective like, say, the White House, could compel Obama to reunite Clinton and her former campaign manager.
Update: Jason Horowitz over at the New York Observer reports the following: "A former bundler to Hillary Clinton just called in to tell me that Barack Obama's selection of Patti Solis Doyle as chief of staff to the campaign's eventual vice presidential nominee is the "biggest fuck you I have ever seen in politics."
"Either one of two things happen," said the bundler. "Hillary is selected as vice president and they fire Patti, or Hillary is not going to be the vice president."
Later Update: A source with knowledge (though not direct) of Sollis Doyle and Clinton's relationship writes in to dispute the idea that they haven't spoken since her firing. Though, he adds, the move by Obama seems likely to shut the door on the idea of Clinton as VP.