Inside a cramped third-floor office of Hillary Clinton’s once-bustling presidential campaign headquarters in the Ballston neighborhood of Arlington, Va., Kris Balderston and Adrienne Elrod put the finishing touches on a political hit list. It was late June 2008, and Hillary had dropped her bid for the presidency earlier that month. The war room, where her brain trust had devolved into profanity-laced shouting matches, was empty. The data crunchers were gone. The political director had drifted out. A handful of Hillary’s aides had already hooked up with Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign in Chicago.
Balderston’s salt-and-pepper beard gave him the look of a college English professor who didn’t need to shave for his job. Then in his early fifties, he had been with Bill and Hillary Clinton since their White House days, serving as a deputy assistant to the president and later as Hillary’s legislative director and deputy chief of staff in her New York Senate office. The official government titles obscured Balderston’s true value: He was an elite political operator and one of Hillary’s favorite suppliers of gossip. After more than a dozen years spent working for the Clintons, he knew how to keep score in a political race.
photo credit: DonkeyHotey via flicker.