Maggie Williams’ Three Rules


maggie williams  2 twn.jpgThe first edicts that late-in-the-day Hillary Clinton Campaign director Maggie Williams issued to her staff as Patti Solis Doyle was heading out the door were:

1. Be respectful of your fellow staff members — generous in spirit, positive, constructive.
2. Return all phone calls — even if you have to return them at night when you know the other person won’t be in. Return every single one.
3. Feel empowered to share your ideas for the campaign. Send them to [me], Howard Wolfson, anyone. We want your ideas and want to hear from you.

Patti Solis Doyle allegedly bred a lot of ill will inside the campaign among staffers. Many Clinton aides talked about how she had a wall erected between herself and the rest of the campaign staff in Iowa. Others who had been around for Hillary Clinton’s Senate campaign talked about how Patti Solis Doyle had shut down the campaign office for two full days in order to watch the collected DVD set of “Grey’s Anatomy.” I’m not kidding.

So, point number one on Maggie Williams’ list was a good place to start for the morale-challenged Clinton campaign crowd.
Point three is also interesting — and I’ve witnessed frequently how numerous Clinton staffers absorb ideas for the campaign, chew on them a bit, and then send them up the ladder over their blackberries to higher realms in the organization — and they get responses back. Very impressive — and apparently a change from the pre-Maggie Williams era.
But the second is funny. I told a friend on the Clinton campaign that I had been trying to work on a story that would place the issue of superdelegates in a light that was different than the press at that time had given the subject.
There is a strong current of opinion in Democrat circles that superdelegates should vote the way of their states, or their districts — depending on one’s level of analysis and also to some degree, on whether the calculation would help Obama or Clinton.
I tend to think superdelegate rules should not be tampered with in any way in this race. They should vote the way they will vote — and their purpose is to serve both as party stabilizers who can see beyond a moment in time at the ballot box and as institutional memory for the party-building activities of various candidates.
I wanted to compare what Barack Obama had done by way of party building. How many fundraisers had he done for the DNC or the DSCC or the DCCC. What had his PAC given to other candidates.
Likewise, what was Hillary Clinton’s “party-building” profile? Had she helped support other candidates in key races in 2002, 2004 and 2006? How much money could she claim she had helped raise for the Democratic National Committee, and what had her PAC done.
I’m certain that the story would not have been definitive in telling the story of superdelegates — but I think it would have added some depth and context to the debate about why superdelegates may exist within the party primary structure.
I decided to start with the Clinton campaign and had hoped to get some data, or even a roster of vignettes of Hillary Clinton’s party-building activities. And then I hoped to get similar material from Obama’s team.
I have to say that in Hillary’s case, I placed more than a dozen calls to various members of her team — all good people actually — and some very high on the ladder, including Maggie Williams.
But not one of the calls was returned. So much for that story.
But a friend who works on the Clinton camp — who adores Maggie Williams — nonetheless got a kick out of the fact that she, Howard Wolfson, and others I don’t want to name were breaking their own rules.
To be honest, I don’t return every call either — don’t have the time and too many balls in the air. But I’m not running for anything, not even dog-catcher.
— Steve Clemons


15 comments on “Maggie Williams’ Three Rules

  1. Michelle says:

    DanK, I have exactly the same issue. I made some posts
    disagreeing with many of the posts and pointing out factual inaccuracies an outright lies and they have been deleted.
    Larry where is the whitey video, put up or shut up.


  2. DanK says:

    Since this is linked from Larry Johnson’s noquarter site I finally will have an opportunity to let a few of its readers know that they are reading censored comments. I have left several comments (all of them reasonable and not offensive) which were scrubbed, presumably because the editors thought they might undercut the site’s propaganda line.
    I too am not sold on Senator Obama and am disappointed that the Democratic Party couldn’t have selected a more experienced, more electable candidate, but the idea that a feminist (or anyone with liberal ideals) might vote for McCain is ludicrous. Just check his voting record.


  3. DavidK says:

    It is such great news that Hilary is finally out but you have dead
    enders like Larry Johnson make up lies and say there is a video of
    Michelle Obama and that it will be revealed any day according to
    many of his contacts, of course it never came out. I don’t know why
    one person would fall for his lines, he claimed Karl Rove was going
    to be ‘indicted and day’ and that he knew that for a fact still waiting
    10 months later.
    The more he carries on the more convinced that he is a plant from
    the GOP.


  4. Mr.Murder says:

    Obama has fewer popular votes from primaries.
    Maybe we can just let Mayor Daley select the winner, he already has.
    Making your neighborhood like the south side of Chicago. The DNC has a vision.


  5. Lucia Regalado says:

    Dear Maggie
    My husband just told me he thinks this country needs “MOTHERING” sort of speaking. When I heard it, it rang true in my ears and I hope you can use it in Hillary’s campaign. I personly say “mothering with tough love”.We need to get back on track and she is just the person to do it.
    thank you
    Lucia Regalado


  6. kovie says:

    The superdelegates could vote for Mike Gravel if they liked and wouldn’t be violating the rules, of course. Or, they could vote for the candidate with fewer pledged delegates and popular votes, and not be violating the rules. The rules allow them to vote for whomever they want to vote for (so long as they’re Dems, I assume). That’s not the issue. The issue is should they do this, if it goes against the majority of people who voted in Democratic primaries and caucuses. I think that they should not. It would be a travesty. But I’ll leave it to them to decide what they should do. And I’ll leave it to them to live with the consequences. With privileges come responsibilities.


  7. leo says:

    Hillary’s is a Zombie Campaign, night-of-the-living-dead unreality style, let it go.
    You’re hurting America, especially all those poor mislead Clinton supporters.


  8. citizen says:

    what about the clinton “southern strategy” how can any serious commentator avoid covering this?


  9. Carroll says:

    “Politicans” should not be the ones to set rules for “politicans” elections. Period.
    It should be done by some non political entity like a group of constitutional scholars and apply to all elections, state and national.


  10. Fac says:

    Steve, I with you about “not making up the rules as one goes along” … which would likely be more of liability in terms of loss of credibility. I suppose we do need to allow the superdelegates to vote their mind this time around; noting a “superdelegate override” would create major calls for reform possibly create deep divisions in the party for years to come.
    Nonetheless, pain is a great motivator & I wonder how much motivation the party will actually possess after all the dust has settled? It may depend upon who ultimately prevails and how.
    I agree with you about abolishing the electoral college as well. The autonomy of the individual and the reflection thereof is certainly compromised via such “representational buffers/stopgaps”. I’m mostly a believer in sweeping direct democratic principles, with the caveat the someone has to have the codes to the football.
    Nonetheless, living in a municipality (Ophir, CO) which does not have a representational governmental structure (rather a general assembly of town residents), I see why a benevolent dictactorship is one of the more efficient forms of government.


  11. JohnH says:

    The article has already been written, at least for the 2006 Senate campaign. The facts are not flattering to Hillary, which is probably why her campaign doesn’t return phone calls about it.
    “2006 was a Democratic opportunity, and grassroots supporters dug deep and then deeper to finance an ever-expanding array of competitive races. Hillary, meanwhile, made a conscious decision to raise $52 million for a Senate campaign that she could have won in her pajamas, spent $40.8 million (to beat a token opponent who spent less than $6 million), and transferred the rest to her presidential campaign.
    You could say she was just playing the game, but John Edwards and Barack Obama, in comparison, campaigned throughout the country to support worthy Democratic candidates, while doing negligible fundraising for their own pending campaigns. The Edwards campaign ended that season still in debt from 2004. Obama emerged with less than a million in the bank. Their top priorities really did seem to be helping other Democrats win a critical election, instead of subordinating all other goals to their own personal futures.”


  12. Zathras says:

    It sounds as if Ms. Williams’ rules had mostly to do with restoring some level of comity within the Clinton campaign organization, and secondarily with ensuring that campaign supporters outside the campaign organization didn’t get stiffed.
    Steve Clemons calls to say he is working on a story — and not just any story, but one about superdelegates, the key to Sen. Clinton’s hopes of salvaging her campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Is he part of the campaign? No. Is he a supporter? No. Is he a member of the press? If you call to say you’re working on a story, and the story isn’t being instigated by the campaign, then yes, you are a member of the press.
    Now, Sen. Clinton has a well-deserved reputation for regarding the media with contempt, suspicion and hostility. So her “rules” on media contacts would overrule Ms. Williams’. Even if they didn’t, though, on this particular subject the Clinton campaign would want its message going out in clear, undiluted form; its objective is to beat Obama and win the nomination for Clinton, not to shed light on the superdelegate phenomenon. I’m not a Clinton supporter, but if I were working on a campaign and got a call like that in a situation similar to that the Clinton campaign is in now I might not return it either. Or maybe I would, if I could figure out how to begin a game of phone tag that would last until after the Democratic Convention.


  13. Linda says:

    I’m not sure your story would have been fair because Clinton has had more years and more lobbyists to tap for funds to share with others. But in this primary she maxed out all those sources long ago.
    If the “Gray’s Anatomy” story is true, then what kind of CEO doesn’t know what the COO is doing? Maggie Williams’ rules sound lovely, but what good are they if staff doesn’t follow them? The Clinton campaign doesn’t seem to like or respect the rules of this primary. Four-five-year-olds want to win when they start learning games and they want to change the rules all the time to do that. That’s normal developmental behavior for kids that age, but not for grown-ups.


  14. Steve Clemons says:

    FonMars — I understand your view. I just think that it’s tough to
    recast rules after a race has been started — and I think that party-
    building, including “preservation of power ties” was what those
    behind the creation of the superdelegate class were thinking
    about. I think that there needs to be serious reform of the process
    after this election — and while they are at it, I wouldn’t mind seeing
    the electoral college done away with in the national election as
    Steve Clemons


  15. FaceOnMars says:

    “institutional memory” seems to be somewhat of a euphimism for “preservation of power ties”. Even if super delegates do act as a legitimate “filter”, it’s still on the parallel equivalent level of *appearance* of a conflict of interest (even in the absense of one in reality).
    I’m afraid I fall in the dichotomous black and white camp on this one; the electorate is granted full autonomy to select a candidate and allowed to sink or swim.
    It might take many cycles to break free of anvil, but it’ll be worth it in the long run if we don’t obliterate ourselves first!


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