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Fix Picks: Inside the Clinton Campaign

There is no more fascinating story for the truest of political junkies than the inner workings of a presidential campaign.

Vast operations with budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars are built on the fly, Senior level staffers and consultants -- many of whom have long histories with one another -- are hired. And everyone is asked to play nice for the good of the candidate.

Thankfully (for The Fix at least) they rarely do. And, in two new pieces -- one in the New York Times and one in the Los Angeles Times -- the fissures within the presidential campaign of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) are exposed.

The first piece, penned by Times lead political reporter (and Fix friend) Adam Nagourney, profiles Clinton senior adviser Harold Ickes who has taken a far more prominent role in the campaign to date.

"Mr. Ickes's battles have often been as much inside the campaign as outside it," Nagourney writes. "He and [Clinton chief strategist] Mr. [Mark] Penn have a long history of enmity. -- they did not talk when both worked for Mr. Clinton when he was in the White House."

"He barely tries to hide his view of Penn," Nagourney adds. "'Many pollsters, many pundits -- including our chief strategists, dare I say -- didn't think we were going to win New Hampshire,' [Ickes] said pointedly at his breakfast with journalists."

The Los Angeles Times story further explores Penn's role in the campaign and features an EXTREMELY curious quote from the man who is widely regarded as the lead strategist for the effort.

"I have had no say or involvement in four key areas -- the financial budget and resource allocation, political or organizational sides," Penn wrote in an email to the Los Angeles Times. "Those were the responsibility of Patti Solis Doyle, Harold Ickes and Mike Henry, and they met separately on all matters relating to those areas." Penn added that he had no staff that reported to him and "no direct authority in the campaign."

The L.A. Times story also takes note of an internal campaign debate between Penn and former deputy campaign manager Mike Henry in which the slogan "Solutions for America" was pushed by Penn as the new message of the campaign. "Henry asked: 'Is this what we're doing or is it up for discussion?'" write Peter Nicholas in the piece. "Penn said Clinton had already approved the new message."

It's a mistake to think that Clinton campaign is unique in its turbulent internal dynamics. In fact, fights within a campaign's senior staff is the rule not the exception. (Need evidence? Check out the decline and fall of Sen. John McCain's campaign over the summer and the disagreements within former governor Mitt Romney's inner circle after a series of early states losses.)

But, when it comes to the factions and fissures, everything in the Clinton campaign seems magnified. If Clinton comes up short in tomorrow's Ohio-Texas Two-Step, these two pieces will be only the tip of the iceberg and the blame game will begin in earnest.

Stay tuned.

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 3, 2008; 5:35 PM ET
Categories:  Fix Picks  
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Next: Ohio-Texas Two Step Predictions!

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