Trying to overcome a string of losses and a staff shake-up, Hillary Rodham Clinton sought new energy Tuesday night from a boisterous crowd of about 12,000 in a state she hopes will provide a rebound in her quest for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Clinton, whose rallies had been overshadowed by rival Barack Obama’s huge crowds, arrived at the packed University of Texas at El Paso basketball arena as voters were giving Obama victories in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
But her sights were set on the March 4 Texas and Ohio primaries and on President Bush.
“I’m tested, I’m ready, let’s make it happen,” she yelled to cheering supporters.
She slipped into a “you all” and criticized Bush, the former Texas governor.
“There’s a great saying in Texas,” she said, “all hat and no cattle. Well after seven years of George Bush, we need a lot less hat and lot more cattle.”
Clinton did not mention Tuesday’s results, but there were lingering signs of the disquiet in her campaign.
Her deputy campaign manager resigned Tuesday, the latest departure in a staff shake-up follows string of losses to Barack Obama.
In an e-mail message to staffers, Mike Henry said he was stepping down to allow campaign manager Maggie Williams to build her own team. Williams replaced Patti Solis Doyle during the weekend. Solis Doyle had recruited Henry to join the campaign last year.
“Out of respect for Maggie and her new leadership team, I thought it was the best thing to do,” Henry wrote. “As someone who has managed campaigns, I share the unique understanding of the challenges that the campaign will face over the next several weeks. Our campaign needs to move quickly to build a new leadership team, support them and their decisions and make the necessary adjustments to achieve the winning outcome for which we have all worked so hard for over a year now.”
It was unclear whether Henry was forced out.
Obama continued to rack up wins Tuesday, beating Clinton by a nearly 2-to-1 margin in Virginia and also winning easily in Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Henry was the campaign’s main field architect and was best known for writing a memo in the spring urging Clinton not to compete in Iowa, “our consistently weakest state.” The memo was leaked to the news media, which embarrassed Clinton as she was beginning to build an organization in Iowa.
Clinton placed third in Iowa, behind Obama and John Edwards, who has since left the race. Her campaign has struggled since then.
Guy Cecil, another top field strategist, was expected to succeed Henry.
Eye on Ohio, Texas
Clinton did not spend much time or money in the Potomac River region. She canceled a tentative event in the Washington area as voting was under way Tuesday.
Instead, she spent about an hour in a makeshift television studio in her Arlington, Va., national headquarters conducting interviews via satellite with 10 television stations in Texas, Ohio and Wisconsin.
She made it clear that the March 4 primaries in Ohio and Texas were crucial milestones in her campaign.
“Ohio is really going to count in determining who our Democratic nominee is going to be,” she told WCPO in Cincinnati. She reminded Texans that her first job in politics was for the Democratic Party in 1972 registering Hispanic voters in South Texas. “I still have friends from those experiences,” she said.
Clinton also planned to campaign in Wisconsin, which holds its primary on Feb. 19. But she told one interviewer in Milwaukee that the race there was “an uphill challenge.”
“I’m the underdog candidate in that race,” she said.
She is airing television ads statewide in Ohio and Texas. She also is placing Spanish language ads in Texas. On Tuesday she also began airing ads in Wisconsin. She planned to go to Ohio late Wednesday and then to Wisconsin on Saturday.