Patti Solis Doyle, a fixture in Hillary Clinton’s inner circle for 16 years, stepped down as her campaign manager yesterday after a series of losses to Barack Obama.
Her exit, announced in an email to campaign staff, came on a weekend when the Clinton camp suffered heavy losses in primaries and caucuses from the US Virgin Islands to Louisiana and Maine and is bracing for a further set of defeats in contests in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia tomorrow.
"I have been proud to manage this campaign and prouder still to call Hillary my friend for more than 16 years," Solis Doyle wrote in the email.
The Clinton camp is also falling behind Obama in fund raising. She was forced to lend her campaign $5m (£2.5m) last week, but there was still not enough money to buy television ads in Louisiana, deepening the extent of her loss to Obama.
A daughter of Mexican immigrants to Chicago, Solis Doyle, 42, has worked for Clinton since Bill Clinton first ran for the White House, joining the campaign in a relatively lowly job as scheduler.
The first Latina to run a presidential campaign, she is to be replaced by an even more senior member of "Hillaryland", as Clinton’s circle of largely women aides calls itself, Maggie Williams. Williams was Clinton’s chief of staff when she was First Lady.
Solis Doyle’s departure had been pending for some weeks. Williams was brought into the campaign as a senior adviser after Clinton’s crushing defeat in the first contest of this race, the Iowa caucus on January 3.
She is believed to have played a role since then in crafting Clinton’s message -specifically in injecting a warmer, more emotional side in her policy-laden speeches. But a wholesale reshuffle was put on hold when the campaign went on to win the next contest in New Hampshire.
Solis Doyle said she would serve as a senior adviser to Clinton and travel with her from time to time.
Last night Clinton’s campaign denied the reshuffle reflected disappointment at the scale of Saturday’s primary and caucus losses. Campaign aides said Solis Doyle made the decision to leave on her own and was not urged to do so by the former First Lady or any other senior member of the team. Clinton issued a statement of her own by email, praising her aide and saying she would look forward to receiving her advice in the coming months.
"Patti Solis Doyle has done an extraordinary job in getting us to this point – within reach of the nomination – and I am enormously grateful for her friendship and her outstanding work," Clinton said. "And, as Patti has said, this already has been the longest presidential campaign in history and one that has required enormous sacrifices of everyone and our families