Obama Camp Reaching Out To Clinton's Team

NEW YORK (AP) -- A top strategist for Barack Obama has reached out to Hillary Rodham Clinton's former campaign manager about joining forces for the general election, the latest sign of political reconciliation between the two rivals as Obama begins consolidating his position as the likely Democratic nominee.

Obama strategist David Axelrod and former Clinton aide Patti Solis Doyle confirmed they had had informal conversations about how she might help the Illinois senator if he secures the presidential nomination as expected. The conversations were first reported on the Politico Web site.

"When the time comes, if we're the nominee, we're going to want to work with talented people across the party including those who worked for Senator Clinton," Axelrod said. "Patti's a good and talented person, and we all have a high regard for her."

He added, "No specific offers have been proffered, and none has been accepted. This is not an official entreaty from one campaign to another."

Solis Doyle hails from Chicago, Obama's home turf, and met Axelrod 20 years ago while working in city government there. Her brother, Danny Solis, is a Chicago alderman.

A longtime Clinton loyalist, Solis Doyle began working as Hillary Clinton's scheduler during her husband's 1992 presidential bid and stayed with her through two terms in the White House. She helped manage the former first lady's first New York Senate bid in 2000, and began laying the groundwork for her presidential bid shortly thereafter.

In February, Solis Doyle stepped down as campaign manager after Clinton's third-place showing in Iowa and disappointing performance in the 22-state "Super Tuesday" contests Feb. 5. Maggie Williams, Clinton's former White House chief of staff, replaced Solis Doyle.

Clinton has vowed to stay in the race through the final primaries June 3 even as she trails Obama in the popular vote and among pledged and superdelegates. She has also pushed for a resolution of disputed primaries in Michigan and Florida, whose results were voided after the states violated party rules by moving their contests to January.

Obama is expected to secure the majority of pledged delegates Tuesday after primaries in Kentucky and Oregon.

For her part, Solis Doyle said in an interview that her status has not changed.

"I'm for Hillary, I have been for 17 years. This thing isn't over," Solis Doyle said. "But I'm a Democrat and if Obama's the nominee, I will do whatever I can to get him elected and make sure the party is unified."


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