Despite Hillary Clinton’s surprising win in the New Hampshire primary, discontent remains the order of the day in “Hillaryland,” according to an article in the liberal New Republic.
“For all of Team Hillary’s gifts, it is not known as a happy group,” Michelle Cottle writes in the magazine.
“‘I’ve never seen a campaign where everyone feels so bad about themselves,’ says one campaign staffer, echoing others.”
That feeling was palpable the morning after Clinton’s defeat in the Iowa caucuses, when a “sad and sorry Team Hillary” gathered for a conference call with the candidate, Cottle relates.
After Hillary came on the line, message guru Mandy Grunwald tried to spur conversation by asking staffers if they had any thoughts. No one spoke. After a pregnant pause, Hillary began talking for a few minutes about the campaign. Again, silence.
An angry Hillary finally snarled: “This has been very helpful talking to myself” — and hung up.
Following Iowa, rumors began circulating that there would be a major shakeup in the Clinton campaign staff. Then came the New Hampshire win. But discord remains in Hillaryland, the New Republic article disclosed.
The unease has been spurred in large part by the “fear-inducing, high-handed” leadership of the advisors known as “the Five” – Grunwald, campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle, top strategist Mark Penn, policy chief Neera Tanden, and communications director Howard Wolfson.
The five, called by Cottle the “devout members of Hillaryland,” have kept “an iron grip on everything from ideas to access.”
The staffer deemed most likely to be replaced after Iowa was Penn, according to Cottle.
“The reasons are legion: his high profile; his right-of-center politics; his myopic focus on issues; his dismissal of the need for Hillary to get personal and address her likability problem; his unusual dual role as top strategist and pollster; and, of course, his famously rough manner.”
New Hampshire brought Penn a reprieve — and not everyone in the Clinton campaign was happy about that.
“So strong was the desire for change,” Cottle writes, “that the Granite State miracle, while obviously a godsend, left some staffers deflated as it became clear that the planned overhaul had been derailed.”
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