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December 9, 2007

Patti Solis Doyle: The Woman Behind Hillary Clinton


Solis Doyle, fourth from left, meets with Clinton's inner circle.

Photo Credit: Plamen Petkov

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Santiago Solis, a Mexican immigrant with a third-grade education, worked as a janitor in Chicago to provide for his children. When his daughter, Patti, was accepted at Northwestern University, it was one of the proudest days of his life. Now, Patti Solis Doyle is Hillary Clinton's campaign manager — the first Latina to run a presidential campaign.

With her dark hair, dancer's posture, and Prada heels, Solis Doyle arrives at her office in Arlington, VA, looking stunning — but also a little worn out. No matter the day, it promises to be a tough one. Although Clinton has all the things female voters gravitate toward — a concern for the problems of working families and a background in health-care policy and education — she's not an easy sell.

"We have this running joke," Solis Doyle has said. "Hillary calls me up and says, 'What do people think of me?' I reply, 'They think you're the devil, a little bit.'"

Clinton is an intensely private woman and understandably press-shy, given the grueling scrutiny of her marriage, her business dealings, and her hairstyles in the past. Part of Solis Doyle's job is to humanize Clinton and make her accessible to voters.

In light of that, Solis Doyle, 42, works with an army of media strategists, fund-raisers, and political advisers; in meetings at campaign headquarters, she and staff members argue over strategy. "In the end, you have to make a decision," Solis Doyle says. "So when consensus cannot be reached, I'm the one who has to say, 'OK, we've heard all sides. Here's what we're going to do.'"

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