Clinton's Latina manager makes history

January 2, 2008 8:12:35 PM PST
The pressure is really on an ex-Chicagoan who's been invisible up to now. The hottest hot seat in this frigid Iowa political season may belong to the first Hispanic woman to run a major presidential campaign. Forty-two-year-old Patti Solis Doyle hasn't seen much of her husband and two young children lately, or her brother, Chicago alderman Danny Solis. She's been too busy running Hillary Clinton's campaign around the country, including Iowa, where a $20 million budget for 300 staffers in 36 offices may not be enough for Senator Clinton, a heavy favorite a few weeks ago, to hold off the hard-charging populist message of John Edwards or Barack Obama's compelling campaign of hope and change.

"I think he's very talented. But my candidate is Hillary Clinton. And one of the hard things actually is having so many friends on the opponent's team. But in the end, we'll all be together," said Solis Doyle.

The Illinois state treasurer is a close friend of Obama. And he's joining an army of volunteers in Iowa to lobby the young voters and the independents who could carry the first-term senator from Illinois to victory if they attend the caucuses. And if that happens, or John Edwards' late surge propels him past Clinton, Solis Doyle will be on an even hotter seat as the manager of a campaign that was running away with the nomination until the dynamics changed.

"On to New Hampshire, and I feel good about tomorrow," she said of her attitude toward potentially losing Iowa. "And then we're on to New Hampshire and after New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina and February 5. We have an organization built for the long haul. And I feel good."

Solis Doyle's candidate could finish first, second or third, and that may have something to do with her involvement in politics. She's previously worked with Miriam Santos, and for the last dozen years with Hillary Clinton at the White House and then the Senate office. And now she's on the campaign trail, making history as the first Latina campaign manager trying to make history with the first female president facing a tough road.