"Planet Hillary" Sources
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One former aide told me that working for the Clintons is like staying at the Hotel California (“You can check out, but you can never leave”)one former aide
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another person compared it to prison (“Not everyone can adjust to life on the outside”)another person
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One former aide noted, succinctly, “People want to feel important, and the Clintons don’t snub people very well.”one former aide
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“I love Barbra Streisand,” says Donna Brazile, the Democratic strategist who worked on both of Bill Clinton’s campaigns, “but Beyoncé is what’s happening now. I love Peter, Paul and Mary, but she needs to be Justin Timberlake. She can’t afford to kick people out, but she can afford to let new people come in. I realize that’s uncomfortable.”Donna Brazile
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“The challenge is to create ways for people to help but also to figure out who the next generation is,” says Steve Elmendorf, deputy campaign manager on John Kerry’s 2004 presidential run. “Even David Plouffe is a generation removed. Who is the 32-year-old version of David?”Steve Elmendorf
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“The Next Generation launched a coup to dispose [of] the old fogies,” Philippe I. Reines, Clinton’s principal gatekeeper, jokingly told me this summer, when I asked if he had joined her post-State personal staff. Philippe I. Reines
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In between bites of a shrimp cocktail, he called these noodges “space cowboys,” referring to the 2000 film in which Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones and Donald Sutherland play aging pilots who reunite to disarm a Soviet-era satellite on one last mission. Philippe I. Reines
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If she decides to run, says Melanne Verveer, Clinton’s White House chief of staff, “the next question is how is she going to organize this group of people” who all want to contribute. Melanne Verveer
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“I think she understands she has to be, and will be, welcoming to new people, especially people with technical expertise and know-how,” one former Obama aide says. “But the knives will be out from people protecting their place in the world.”one former Obama aide
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When Clinton accepted the job as secretary of state, she did so with the understanding that she could bring some of her most loyal people — called the Royal Council by one aide — along with her. one aide
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(“Obama didn’t realize that extended to the cafeteria workers,” quipped one person familiar with the confirmation process.)one person familiar with the confirmation process
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Legally she could not participate in fund-raising or political activity, and so the period, noted one staff member, seemed like a quiet four-year pause.one staff member
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“I had a lot of anxiety before I took the job,” Thomas R. Nides, who served as deputy secretary of state for management and resources under Clinton, told me. “I had never worked for them before, and I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. Was every day going to be the outside claqueurs coming in and asking, ‘What’s going on?’ and wanting to be a part of everything?” Nides, who is now vice chairman of Morgan Stanley, said he was impressed by Clinton’s ability to shut out the opinions of old political aides. “To the Clintons’ credit, they communicate with a lot of people, but I think she has a filter now — to filter some of that out of her head and basically take the advice she is getting from her team.”Thomas R. Nides
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“If Philippe told me not to talk to you, I wouldn’t have talked to you,” Lanny Davis, a lawyer who served as a special White House counsel under Clinton, told me.Lanny Davis
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(Reines, for the record, said he named his cats Uday and Qusay merely because they’re brothers and “were little terrorists when they were kittens.”)Philippe I. Reines
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Until recently, her seven personal aides worked out of a tiny Washington office (“smaller than my first N.Y.C. apartment,” one aide said in an email) on Connecticut Avenue.one aide
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She “inspires loyalty, and she’s loyal back,” another person close to the inner circle says.another person close to the inner circle
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Clinton, who has done her fair share of damage control, seems less concerned with things like the potential embarrassment of Abedin’s spouse than with building up a system that keeps out the “night stalkers,” as termed by one former aide.one former aide
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One Clinton supporter told me that the very specter of Smith in a swing state is a sign that the old buddy system is still alive and well.one Clinton supporter
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To his credit, Smith (whose firm is paid $10,000 a month by Ready for Hillary) said he recognizes that “if there is a campaign, it’s got to be [made up of] people who know how to run a campaign of 2016.”Craig T. Smith
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(Sean Sweeney, a founder of Priorities USA, says he supports Ready for Hillary’s “important” mission.)Sean Sweeney
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“The Clintons make you feel like you’re part of their family; that’s just who they are,” says Brazile, whose neutrality during the 2008 Democratic primaries was seen by numerous Clinton hands as an act of betrayal. “Try divorcing them. I did, and oh, my God, that’s not easy. I felt like I had broken up with my best lover.”Donna Brazile
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“It’s my pet peeve when they’re described as an entity,” Geoffrey Garin, who stepped in as a chief strategist after Mark Penn’s disastrous run in ’08, told me. “Obviously they are married and do things together, but they are two separate people with two separate identities in political life.”Geoffrey Garin
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The person he hired turned out to have worked on the eventual botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act, and Braverman was reminded in no uncertain terms that his job was not to seek his own publicity but to complement the Clintons’ mission. (A foundation spokesman denies this.)a foundation spokesman
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(Lindsey said any assertion that the audit was personal is false.)Bruce Lindsey
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A person with knowledge of the situation told me Band was not, in fact, the source — and several others said, emphatically, that the couple have a happy, committed relationship. a person with knowledge of the situation
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An aide also added that the handful of people who have historically called her the Child did so in an endearing way.an aide
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But one person with intimate knowledge of Clinton dynamics had a simpler explanation. According to this person, staff members — most notably Band — who were insecure about Chelsea’s power had simply forgotten that they lived “downstairs.”one person with intimate knowledge of Clinton dynamics
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Wright, one Arkansas friend said, had personal issues; she became a liability — just as Solis Doyle and Penn and Band would later — and the Clintons cut her loose before they moved into the White House.one Arkansas friend
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Max Brantley, who is editor of The Arkansas Times and has known the Clintons for decades, told me over gumbo at the Capital Hotel bar in Little Rock that their relationship with Wright, and other aides, was more complicated than their simply rejecting her. “Is it malicious? Or a business decision justified by circumstances?” Brantley said. “Some people get eaten up by the charisma and forget that, in the end, it is a business.”Max Brantley
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Sitting at a New York coffee shop one afternoon, a person close to the Clintons, whom Nickilippe had not authorized to talk, pulled out a felt-tip pen and drew a triangle and a circle on a white cocktail napkin.a person close to the Clintons, whom Nickilippe had not authorized to talk
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A recent leak to Politico about a private Clinton strategy session was a “violation” that should serve as a red flag, one Obama aide said.one Obama aide
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When I asked Ickes why, as an obsessive diarist, he hadn’t written a memoir after he was fired as deputy chief of staff in 1997, he cited loyalty. “As hard as it may be to imagine,” Ickes told me, “there are people who feel loyal to the person they’re serving.” Then he offered a more revealing answer. “The Clintons are still major players in the national political scene, and even if people were inclined to write a book — and I’ve never been inclined that way — they [have to] think the Clintons have a big reach and continue to influence the Democratic Party. Why do I need to get on the wrong side of them?”Harold M. Ickes
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(“What do you think about Hillary’s bangs? etc.,” Tim Miller, of America Rising, a conservative political-action committee, later emailed.)Tim Miller
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“They’ll either work it out or they won’t,” she said of the website’s early glitches, which one person interpreted to mean that if Obama couldn’t figure it out, her administration would.one person
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When I asked David Axelrod what he thought Clinton had to do to win in 2016, he referred to the change she underwent during the last campaign. “She stumbled in 2007, when she was encased in a presumption of inevitability,” Axelrod said. “And she was a very good candidate in 2008 after she got knocked back. Instead of a battleship, she became a speedboat, and she got down on the ground and really, I thought, really connected to the middle-class voters and people who were struggling. People who were struggling connected with her when she looked like she was struggling.”David Axelrod
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In her final months as secretary of state in the summer of 2012, when her approval ratings and press coverage were at all-time highs, I asked Bill Clinton what he thought of his wife’s transformed image. Over coffee at the Hilton in Nicosia, Cyprus, he told me the story of having just finished working on the McGovern campaign, his official, and intoxicating, introduction into presidential politics. He said he told Hillary he’d met some of the most prominent people of their generation, and she was by far the most gifted. “You should be in public life,” he told her back then. “She said: ‘Look at how hard-hitting I am. Nobody will ever vote for me for anything.’ ” The former president also gave some thought to her current image. “I think the country sees her the way those of us who know her see her.”Bill Clinton
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