Hillary's spokeswoman calls it quits

Marsha Berry leaves the first lady's office in the latest sign that Hillary is becoming a full-time Senate candidate.

Published December 3, 1999 12:26PM (EST)

Hillary Clinton's decision to cast off the confining costume of the first
lady, don a Yankees cap and jump into the New York Senate race had a
tangible impact this week, when communications director Marsha Berry
resigned to take a job with the U.S. Export Import Bank.

Berry's departure has not been announced, but sources close to her told
Salon News she has been trying to leave the White House for many months.
She waited until Clinton got her New York Senate campaign staff together, and when the
hiring of campaign manager Bill de Blasio was announced
Friday, she made her move.

Berry will go down in history as the woman who handled Hillary Clinton's
media relations during the Lewinsky scandal, as the story of the
president's relationship with an intern moved from the Internet to the
floor of the Senate for an impeachment trial. She also presided over the
first lady's rehabilitation as Clinton became a national heroine for
standing behind her philandering husband, her victimhood setting the stage
for the independent political career the feminist first wife had always

But as Clinton moved north away from her White House base of
operations, she began to stumble. Her embrace of Sula Arafat, the
controversy over the pardoning of Puerto Rican revolutionaries and the
perhaps-fatal gaffe with the Yankees cap made observers wonder whether she
was ready for New York politics, a contact sport that could make
impeachment look like a tryout for the Methodist church choir.

Though Berry will no doubt be officially replaced, the departure of the
high-powered veteran underscores Clinton's decision to scale back her first
lady duties in order to challenge New York mayor Rudy Giuliani for the
Senate seat now held by Daniel Patrick Moynihan. The nation will have to
learn to do without a full-time first lady, a post for which there is no
formal plan of succession.

By Joan Walsh

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Hillary Rodham Clinton U.s. Senate