Exclusive: Q&A with Patti Solis-Doyle

How does it feel to have started out with Hilary Clinton's campaign and now be working for Obama's during what turned out to be a very contentious primary season?

I’ve known Hilary for a long time and worked with her for more than 16 years. When she lost it was devastating to me personally and professionally. But I think she gave the best speech of her life that Saturday afternoon at the Democratic National Convention when she conceded. I was never more proud of her. I heard what she had to say, the differences between her and Obama are nothing. But the differences between her and McCain are tremendous. And the best way to make what both she and Obama are fighting for happen for the country and for Americans, is to get behind Obama. I heard what she had to say, I listened intently, and I am now doing anything and everything I possibly can to make sure Barack Obama gets elected.

How does it feel to be in such a senior political position as a Latina? What steps did you follow to get here?

I grew up on the South West side of Chicago, which is for all intents and purpose a little Mexico of Chicago. My big brother, who is 16 years older than I am, was involved in community organizing in Chicago, ironically enough with Senator Obama. I was pretty young when I saw him canvassing, knocking on doors, running community organizing meetings. I was inspired by my big brother. He decided that he wanted to help his own community and try to get the people that he lived with in his community better paying jobs and health care. When I graduated from college my brother got me hooked up in politics, and once I got bitten by the bug I never left. I started working on Richard Daley's campaign and then I moved to Arkansas to help out with Bill Clinton's campaign. I worked in the White House, then on Hilary’s first senate run and re-election, and obviously on her presidential campaign. Now, here I am, working on Obama's presidential campaign.

What does your job as Chief of Staff to the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee, Senator Joseph Biden, entail?

I manage the the 35 people working on Joe Biden's staff. I think one of the reasons I was selected for this job is my experience being able to go from zero to a hundred overnight. Running for president, or running for vice-president, is an amazing experience unlike any other. To be able to basically become the most famous person overnight and be able to support that in terms of the politics and the campaigning and the administrative work, it takes a lot of organizational skills, which is what I do on a daily basis.

How important is the position of VP during this election season?

I think it’s tremendously important. First, I want to say I’m a huge fan of Senator Joe Biden. I think that he’s done such a great job—from the announcement, to his convention speech, to the way he’s been campaigning non-stop— since we’ve left Denver. I think that the selection of the vice-presidency is hugely important because I think it says a lot about the candidate, the President. In Obama’s case, I think what was most important for him is electing someone who, if something were to happen to him (God forbid), could actually really step in and become President of the United States. It was for him a very deliberative process, where he weighed all of the different choices, put in a lot of time and effort, and I think it says a lot about his judgment.

Continue reading on the next page to hear what Solis-Doyle has to say about Sarah Palin and immigration...