Hildebrand back in the news

Steve Hildebrand

Steve Hildebrand

Just two years ago, Steve Hildebrand was Barack Obama’s openly gay deputy campaign manager, a brain behind one of the most remarkable presidential campaigns in history. And just two weeks ago, he was toying with the idea of a run for Congress. But an article in the April 1 Washington Post suggests his influence is now all but gone.

The Post article—a somewhat rambling and thinly sourced profile of South Dakota native—characterizes Hildebrand as a “volatile element,” a man who has suffered “unshakable” depression, and a political “rogue” who authored “caustic emails.” It quotes one anonymous “White House official” as saying that, when Hildebrand is not well, “Things get pretty crazy” and there that there is no place for him in the Obama White House.

Hildebrand apparently struggled with both depression and a volatile temper during the 2008 campaign, and had to take a break from the campaign in the middle of the primary season. He told the Post he relied on several antidepressants and had to overcome his fear of flying during a campaign that was in constant motion, from one coast to another, again and again.

Critics, most of who were not named in the article, said he sometimes went too far—sending hostile emails to the campaign staff of Obama’s chief rival Hillary Clinton. He also reportedly left his campaign post in South Florida on election day and flew to Chicago, without notifying the campaign.

Hildebrand was also an early critic of President Obama’s slowness to act on gay-related issues in office and he told the Post he was “disappointed by the president’s failure to defend gay marriage during the referendum in Maine” last year. But he also seems comfortable with taking on a more personal campaign for better government. He’s now running his campaign consulting business, Hildebrand Strategies, in Sioux Falls and has targeted for defeat a Democrat who voted against the Democratic health care reform legislation.

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