The Hillary Team

This page will focus on Senator Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Officers and Staff. It will be updated as necessary.


Asian American National Voter Outreach Campaign Chairwoman
Representative Doris Matsui – California – Sacramento
California Assemblywoman Fiona Ma – San Francisco – Co-Chair Chinese-Americans For Hillary

Excerpts: “Clinton’s strategy dramatizes how “in the Democratic primary, the ethnic vote is going to be very important, particularly in a close race,” said pollster Mark Baldassare, director of the Public Policy Institute of California. Asian Americans, African Americans and Latinos make up 40 percent of the state’s voters. “It’s an electorate that is extremely diverse … and can swing the election,” Baldassare said.

Clinton’s drive among Asian Americans is noteworthy not only for its early timing — a full eight months before any voters will even begin to go to the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire — but for its scope, which far outpaces her Democratic rivals. Not only has the Clinton camp signed up key Asian American leaders in seven targeted regions — Northern and Southern California, New York, Florida, Hawaii, Texas and the mid-Atlantic states — but her campaign has also tapped more than a dozen “ethnic-specific” co-chairs; California Assemblywoman Fiona Ma of San Francisco, for example, co-chairs Chinese Americans for Hillary. Other Clinton support groups include those specifically for Korean Americans, South Asians, Filipino Americans and Vietnamese Americans.

“It acknowledges the differences among the communities, and the fact that our community is not homogeneous,” says Democratic National Committee member Alicia Wang, vice chair of the California Democratic Party and a Clinton supporter. “We’re complex … and they’re recognizing that.”

Clinton is clearly “looking at all the different micro-constituencies of the Democratic Party,” says Phil Trounstine, who heads the San Jose State University Survey and Policy Research Institute. “It takes money, organization and experience to consolidate those. … She wants to create an air of inevitability by locking up every Democratic constituency before the first vote is even cast.”

Among the crowd of more than four dozen Asian backers with diverse roots who are expected to join Clinton today: New York City Councilman John Liu, Vietnamese American Democratic Club President Trung Ta and Mukesh “Mike” Patel, former head of the White House Asian and Pacific Islanders advisory commission during Bill Clinton’s administration.

In the Bay Area, she will be backed by Castro Valley Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, Sunnyvale Mayor Otto Lee, former Filipino American Democratic Caucus Chair Henry Manayan and Mona Pasquil, a former outreach director for Kerry-Edwards 2004.
While Latinos are the state’s fastest-growing ethnic voting group, Asian American voters have become an increasingly attractive target for political candidates in the nation’s most-populous state for two reasons: a jump in overall Asian population from 3.8 million to 4.7 million between 2000 and 2005, and their higher rate of citizenship — 71 percent, according to a report by the Asian American Studies Center at UCLA.”

California Campaign Chair
Averell “Ace” Smith

Excerpts: “Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has turned to Averell “Ace” Smith — who earned his stripes as one of the nation’s most feared political opposition researchers — to steer her campaign in California. Smith, 48, is genteel, soft-spoken and bespectacled — but also is the epitome of a take-no-prisoners political operative who has built a reputation as a dogged researcher and, more recently, a winning California campaign manager, political allies and opponents agree.

“I’ve seen him walk into a room, and the opposition candidate will literally start mumbling,” said former Democratic strategist Clint Reilly, who has run campaigns for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and former Democratic state Treasurer Kathleen Brown and has worked with Smith. “They’re just totally terrified with his presence.” Smith, 48, surprised California political veterans by jumping from the role of top political researcher to the role of campaign manager during Antonio Villaraigosa’s successful 2005 run for mayor of Los Angeles against then-incumbent James Hahn.

Villaraigosa credits Smith with making the “biggest difference” in the campaign’s message in what became a landslide victory. Villaraigosa’s victory was followed up by another for Smith when he oversaw Democrat Jerry Brown’s successful campaign for state attorney general against Republican former state Sen. Chuck Poochigian in 2006.

“Ace is a huge addition and pickup for Hillary,” says veteran Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, who has worked with Smith for years. “He’s someone who knows how to win California, with a track record in different parts of the state, who understands the political fabric. … If you’re in a political campaign, you want Ace in the trenches with you.”

Being tapped by the New York senator marks another high-profile turn for the former head of San Francisco-based SCN Public Relations, a firm that developed a national reputation for assisting candidates with everything from debate prep and strategy to political opposition research, which can include digging up everything from a politician’s unsavory financial or voting records to a false resume or two.

He has amassed an astonishing array of experience, working closely with Democrats (including Garry South, former adviser to Gov. Gray Davis) and Republicans (including Arnold Schwarzenegger’s chief political consultant, Mike Murphy) and in campaigns at all levels in 49 states. His widely varied stints include campaigns with Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, then political director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the mayoral races of Richard M. Daley in Chicago and Richard Riordan in Los Angeles and the Democratic presidential campaign of Howard Dean.

That’s made him “the best op research guy in America on either side of the aisle. He digs under every rock,” said South. But he’s also “a 100 percent political junkie who has studied aspects of campaigns far beyond that. He’s a terrific overall strategist.”
Smith’s arsenal of ammunition includes an encyclopedic memory of political trivia and facts and an ability to speed-read a 5-foot stack of daunting legal documents — a talent that has come in handy for locating the mines that have blown up campaigns of opposing candidates.

“I never hire people with research backgrounds,” Smith says. “I hire people who understand the significance of what they’re seeing. You need to understand the big picture and how to frame the arguments that you want to make.”

Democratic strategist Dan Newman said that, as a campaign manager, Smith has a diverse bag of tricks — particularly an instinct for what resonates with the voters. “(Smith) has the brilliant ability to distinguish the things that actually matter,” he said, “from the other distractions that too often consume a campaign’s time, energy and resources.”

Traveling Chief of Staff (body person)
Huma Abedin

Excerpts: “On a day-to-day basis, Ms. Abedin is responsible for guiding the Senator from one chaotic event to the next and ensuring that the many hundreds of situations that arise at each—the photo ops, the handshakes, the speeches—go smoothly. The job of “body person”—industry-speak for the catchall role of an omnipresent traveling assistant—is a notoriously grueling one, requiring unfaltering level-headedness and a zeal for multitasking.

The back story, as it were, begins 32 years ago in Kalamazoo, Mich., where Ms. Abedin, who declined to participate in this article, lived until the age of 2. Her family then relocated to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where she lived until returning to the States for college. She attended George Washington University. Her father, who died when she was 17, was an Islamic and Middle Eastern scholar of Indian decent. He founded his own institute devoted to Western-Eastern and interfaith understanding and reconciliation and published a journal focusing on Muslim minorities living in the diaspora. Her mother, a renowned professor in Saudi Arabia, is Pakistani.

Ms. Abedin recently bought an apartment in the vicinity of 12th and U streets in Washington, D.C. When she comes to New York, she stays with her sister, who has an apartment in Manhattan—not, as one popular rumor has it, in Chappaqua with the Clintons. She has no children and has never been married. She’s single.

Ms. Abedin began working for Mrs. Clinton as an intern for the then First Lady in 1996. She was hired as a staff assistant to the First Lady’s chief of staff, Maggie Williams. For several years, she was the backup to Mrs. Clinton’s permanent personal aide, Allison Stein, and she officially took over as Mrs. Clinton’s aide and advisor around the time of the 2000 Senate race.

“[Huma] certainly feels a deep responsibility to encourage more mutual understanding between her beliefs and culture and American culture,” said Ms. Powell. “I think you will see Huma coming out of that role in the background.”
“She is a person of enormous intellect with in-depth knowledge on a number of issues—especially issues pertaining to the Middle East,” said Senator John McCain, in a statement relayed by one of his aides.

“Huma is an example of why more people, particularly in Washington, need to understand the rest of the world, need to recognize what an asset it is to have cross-cultural experiences,” wrote Queen Noor of Jordan in an e-mail. “She is loyal, intelligent, diplomatic, energetic and brings a broader understanding to the table—one that I wish there was more of in the world. It is this sensibility that has contributed to her being an enormous asset to Hillary in Washington and New York and now in this next endeavor, and I am proud of her.”

Campaign National Co-Chair
California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez

Excerpts: “Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton named California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez — one of the state’s leading Hispanic politicians — a national co-chair of her presidential campaign on Wednesday.” “The endorsement from the powerful statehouse dealmaker gives Clinton a seasoned political hand in the nation’s largest state, a major battleground for Democratic candidates.”

He can use his influence in Sacramento to enlist support for her candidacy, and as a former union organizer he can strengthen her ties to labor, a vital source of votes.

An independent Field Poll earlier this month showed Clinton holding a wide edge over other candidates among California Hispanics. Nunez could help her broaden her appeal among those voters, especially on his home turf in Southern California.

Nunez is a close friend of popular Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, whose endorsement is being eagerly sought by presidential candidates. It’s unclear what, if any, influence Nunez’s decision will have on the mayor’s thinking.”

New Hampshire State Director
Nick Clemons
Liz Purdy
Bill Shaheen

Excerpts “No success is larger — and more unnoticed — than the campaign team Clinton has recruited in New Hampshire. Talk to unaffiliated Democrats who know their way around the Granite State and they will tell you that Clinton’s team is far superior to those of Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) — her two main rivals for the nomination.

Clinton’s biggest coup was securing Nick Clemons as her state director. Clemons came to Clinton directly from his post as executive director of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. In that position Clemons oversaw Democratic takeovers of both of the state’s U.S. House seats and the re-election of Gov. John Lynch (D). In 2004 he served as state director for Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) winning New Hampshire primary effort.

Clemons was highly coveted by several of the top-tier campaigns and his decision to go with Clinton was cast by political insiders as the first major development of the 2008 New Hampshire primary season. He has since recruited several other Democratic operatives with ties to Lynch.

The most important Lynch aide to join Clinton is Liz Purdy, who managed the governor’s first successful race in 2004 and then oversaw his transition team. Purdy, like Clemons a New Hampshire native, was a consultant to Lynch’s 2006 re-election. Prior to her work for Lynch, Purdy headed up Gov. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D) fundraising in 2000 and then served as deputy campaign manager for Shaheen’s unsuccessful 2002 Senate campaign.

Clinton has also scooped up several coveted endorsements from New Hampshire elected officials and other party activists. The most recent came from Bill Shaheen — husband of the former governor and a major player in his own right. Shaheen was regarded as one of the key free agents in New Hampshire after serving as Kerry’s state chair in 2004 and Al Gore’s co-chair in 2000. State House Majority Leader Mary Jane Wallner is also supporting Clinton, a key endorsement in a state where there are 400 state House members (yes, you read that right) — each of whom is courted incessantly by presidential contenders. In the days following Wallner’s endorsement earlier this month, 16 more state House members signed on with Clinton.”

Campaign National Co-Chair
Hispanic National Outreach Chairman
Raul Yzabuirre

Excerpts: “Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton announced Thursday that Raul Yzaguirre, a prominent Hispanic activist and former president of the National Council of La Raza, would co-chair her presidential campaign and lead its outreach to Hispanic voters.

Hispanics are one of the fastest growing voter groups in the United States, especially in the South and West. National exit polls showed that 69 percent of Hispanic voters favored Democratic candidates in 2006, compared to 30 percent for Republicans. But 44 percent of Hispanics voted for President Bush, a Republican, in 2004.

Under Yzaguirre’s leadership, NCLR became the largest Hispanic advocacy organization in the country, with 41 state affiliates.”

South Carolina State Director
Kelly Adams

Excerpts: “Kelly Adams, who served as deputy director for Dean’s campaign here in 2004, was named South Carolina state director for Clinton and will oversee the campaign’s daily operations. “Kelly is a talented organizer with deep roots in the Palmetto State, and I’m delighted she’s going to run our South Carolina campaign,” Clinton said in a statement.

Adams had served as director of the South Carolina House Democratic Caucus, where she helped set the group’s legislative agenda. She also assisted in fundraising and recruiting candidates. Before that, Adams had worked with the National Association of Social Workers.”

Polling Director
Mark Penn

Excerpts: “In the four months since Clinton officially became a candidate, Penn has consolidated his power, according to advisers close to the campaign, taking increasing control of the operation. Armed with voluminous data that he collects through his private polling firm, Penn has become involved in virtually every move Clinton makes, with the result that the campaign reflects the chief strategist as much as the candidate.

Yet Penn also has everything that Clinton would want in a senior consultant: undisputed brilliance and experience, according to even his enemies; clear opinions, with data to back them up; unwavering loyalty; and a relentless focus on the endgame: winning the general election. And Clinton clearly adores him. She describes Penn in her autobiography, “Living History,” as brilliant, intense, shrewd and insightful.

“Mark brings a certain certainty about his point of view that can feel like an anchor in stormy seas,” said Geoffrey D. Garin, a Democratic pollster who is not connected to any campaign. “It’s clear — and more importantly, it’s clear to Senator Clinton — that he has a consuming commitment to her, and that’s not been true in all of the previous Clinton consulting relationships.”

Asked repeatedly by antiwar Democrats to apologize for her original support for the war, Clinton has refused. Penn has been among her strongest backers on that score, according to Clinton’s advisers, agreeing that to apologize would be disastrous both politically and on the merits.

“When they got to the Senate, Senator Obama’s votes were exactly the same” as Clinton’s, Penn told the panel. “So let’s not try to create false differences when we both agree it’s time to de-escalate, when we both agree it’s time to end this war, and let’s be clear that Senator Clinton thinks that, Senator Obama thinks that.”

Penn gained his foreign policy expertise working on numerous campaigns overseas, especially in Israel. In 1981, he and business partner Doug Schoen helped reelect Menachem Begin, one of the most right-wing prime ministers in the country’s history, and emerged with a new outlook on the Middle East. “We got a chance to experience firsthand the perils and possibilities that the state of Israel presents,” Schoen said in an interview.

A year and a half ago, Penn was named CEO of Burson-Marsteller, succeeding Thomas Nides, another Democratic campaign operative. Although he is Clinton’s chief strategist, he is not technically on the campaign staff. Instead, the Clinton campaign employs his polling firm, Penn Schoen & Berland Associates, a 175-employee unit within Burson-Marsteller. Penn’s firm is on a retainer of $15,000 to $20,000 per month, with specific services, such as polls or direct mailings, available a la carte.

They called it the “Penn PowerPoint,” the distillation of Penn’s thinking about how Clinton can become president, and at small dinners at the home of Clinton friend Vernon Jordan this winter, Penn narrated it for the benefit of potential donors.

Penn’s pitch went something like this: Of course Hillary Clinton can win the presidency. She is already winning. Or, as Penn put it in an interview when asked to summarize the pitch: “She is ahead in the primaries, ahead or tied in the primary states, ahead in the general, ahead or tied in states like Florida and Ohio.”

Turning again to the data, he mapped out a specific strategy for victory in the electoral college: luring to the Democratic Party several percentage points’ worth of women as well as more Hispanics, two groups to which Clinton traditionally appeals.

“When you look at this thing nationally — how is she going to win — I think it’s really important to look at what were the two groups that defected from the Democrats in 2004 to give it to Bush,” Penn said. “And those were women and Latino voters. And almost all the change in that election from 2000 was among those two groups, and those are her two strongest groups. And I think that’s some of the reason you see her doing so well in places like Ohio and Florida — because I think those are both states that she could take.”

“She has a very, very strong base among the Democratic primary voters — first and foremost among voters who have real needs, people who may not have health care, people worried about losing a job, people who know someone serving in the war, people in the working and middle class, people whose lives really depend upon having the kind of champion and advocate that Hillary represents,” Penn said.

Finance Director – Midwest and Virginia
Matthew Felan

Campaign Manager
Patti Solis Doyle

Deputy Campaign Manager
Mike Henry
Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) campaign manager in 2005. DSCC 2006

Communications Chair
Howard Wolfson
Communications Chair Hillary 2000 Senate

Chief of Operations
Evelyn S. Lieberman
Former Undersecretary of State

Finance Director
Jonathan Mantz
Formers Finance Director for New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine

Policy Director
Neera Tanden
Former policy adviser to President Bill Clinton. Legislative Director in Senator Clinton’s Senate office

Scheduling and Long-Term Planning Director
Kim Molstre
Former presidential staff member presidential campaign of Sen. John F. Kerry

Media Consultant
Mandy Grunwald
Formerly with Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign. Advertising Director Hillary 2000 and 2006 Senate

Polling Director
Mark Penn

Communications Deputy Director
Phil Singer

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2006 election. Formerly Senator John Kerry for President 2004 (rapid-response)

Policy Senior Advisor
Leecia Eve
Counsel to Senator Clinton

Senior Advisor
Minyon Moore
Political Director for President Clinton. Minority Outreach Chair Kerry 2004

Senior Advisor
Ann Lewis
Deputy Campaign Manager for President Clinton’s 1996. Communications Chair Hillary for Senate 20006

Hillary Clinton for President Exploratory Committee

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