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Clinton's close aide Neera Tanden joins Obama campaign

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC | July 01, 2008 11:42 IST

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Neera Tanden, 38, one of Senator Hillary Clinton's [Images] closest aides and confidantes, has joined the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama [Images] and will relocate to the campaign headquarters in Chicago this week.
Sources told that unlike Clinton's former campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle, who was pushed out of the campaign and then jumped on the Obama campaign bandwagon, Clinton backed Tanden's decision to join the Democratic presidential nominee's campaign. Tanden took the decision only after the former rivals joined hands at the unity rally in Unity, New Hampshire on June 27.
Doyle was unceremoniously pushed out when the Clinton campaign started trailing behind and she lost several primaries in a row. Tanden, who was policy director in the Clinton campaign, is the second-most senior Clinton loyalist to join Obama, after Doyle.
According to sources, Tanden joining the Obama camp was not seen as a defection at all, unlike Doyle switching sides before the Democratic nominations were decided.

Tanden's decision is being seen as a natural evolution of a concerted Democratic campaign to elect Obama as president, though some Clinton loyalists are still embittered over her failure to secure the nomination and find it difficult to support Obama.

Tanden will become Obama's director of domestic policy, reporting to policy director Heather Higginbottom. Ironically, her work will focus on Obama's healthcare policy, which she had criticised severely when she was part of the Clinton campaign.

While Clinton had consistently called for an aggressive universal health care coverage for all Americans through mandates, Obama has proposed mandated coverage for children and not adults.
According to sources, it was expected that Tanden would tweak Obama's proposal closer to that of Clinton's -- perhaps as a quid pro quo -- for Clinton's unflinching support for Obama, if the majority of the elements in her plan were incorporated in the Obama plan.
Obama has said that Clinton would be an integral part of his administration in developing healthcare reform and he would use his bull pulpit as president to push this cause.
Before she joined Senator Clinton's campaign for president early in 2007, Tanden was vice president for domestic policy at the Center for American Progress, after serving as the legislative director for Clinton during her first year as a US Senator.
Incidentally, Clinton threw a wedding shower for Tanden at the White House during her tenure as the US First Lady.

When Clinton was running for the vacant US Senate in New York with the retirement of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Tanden was the former First Lady's deputy campaign manager and policy director of the campaign.
Tanden, who was born in Bedford, Massachusetts, first stated working for the Clintons in the Clinton-Gore presidential campaign, after she graduated from the University of California in Los Angeles. She later went on to receive a law degree from the Yale Law School in 1996.

Tanden also worked in the first Clinton administration, at the press office and the domestic policy office, before she went on to work for Hillary Clinton in her Senate campaign.

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