Image: Patti Solis Doyle
Melina Mara  /  Washington Post file
Former campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, Patti Solis Doyle.
updated 2/12/2008 7:33:07 PM ET 2008-02-13T00:33:07

Two New York Hispanic leaders said they would be upset if Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Hispanic campaign manager was replaced because of primary losses they believe should be blamed on former President Clinton and others.

Patti Solis Doyle, whose parents were Mexican immigrants, stepped down as Clinton’s campaign manager this weekend as Clinton was losing five Democratic contests to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. Clinton has said Doyle’s decision was a personal response to a grueling campaign, not about job performance. She added that Solis Doyle would remain a senior adviser and that her campaign needed to add more staff.

In a letter to Clinton dated Monday and obtained by The Associated Press, State Sen. Ruben Diaz Jr. and Assemblyman Jose Peralta, both New York City Democrats, wrote that they are inclined to believe the explanation, but “it will be very troubling to many if somehow we later find that she left her post under pressure because of the recent primary losses your campaign suffered.”

The lawmakers credited Solis Doyle with helping build Hispanic support for Clinton and wrote that they hoped she was not “the one to take the blame and resign from her post instead of others involved with your campaign, including former President Clinton, who have caused serious problems and embarrassing situations for your campaign.”

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Bill Clinton was criticized when he suggested Obama’s victory in South Carolina was a racial one, like the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s there in 1988. Obama won with an overwhelming share of the South Carolina black vote. After the criticism of that and other remarks he made about Obama, the former president said he would stick to promoting his wife, rather than defending her.

Clinton has received solid majorities from Hispanic voters. They helped her win California and she is counting on them again in Texas’ March 4 primary.

“She might be playing with fire with the Hispanic community,” Diaz told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “I just wanted them to know that we are not innocent, to believe that the person resigned on her own. No one resigns when things are going good.”

Diaz has not endorsed a candidate for president. Neither Diaz nor Peralta is a superdelegate, the elected officials and party leaders who have a say in choosing the Democratic nominee.

Solis Doyle responded: “This is my decision, my choice, my timing.”

“I was really, really proud to be the first Hispanic woman to run a presidential campaign and particularly proud of the way Hispanics turned out and they turned out for Hillary,” Solis Doyle added, “There was no pressure and while I’m sad not to have the role, I am so happy to be able to be home more with my kids.”

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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