The veteran adviser who won't let Hillary give up

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Harold Ickes is sometimes described as Hillary Clinton's "not so secret weapon". He is also a master of cut-throat politics and comes from a distinguished family of Democratic insiders.

Mr Ickes, 68, is the point man in Mrs Clinton's frenzied back-room manoeuvrings to snatch the nomination from Barack Obama. He runs Mrs Clinton's secretive war room from the third floor of her headquarters across the Potomac river from the US capital where some 20 campaign staff are fighting a losing battle to persuade Democratic leaders known as superdelegates to come to over to the former first lady's side.

Mr Ickes is using his membership of a key Democratic rules committee to win delegates for Mrs Clinton by hook or by crook. The committee is wrestling with the question of what to do with the delegates from Florida and Michigan, two important general election battlegrounds. By seating the delegates that Mrs Clinton "won" in those races where Mr Obama did not compete or was not even on the ballot, she would be again within striking distance.

He is "adviser, consigliere, enforcer and strategist" said an Obama strategist.

With his profane tongue, aggressive style and open scorn for his rivals, Mr Ickes has earned a fearful reputation among Democratic insiders. He is often credited with helping Bill Clinton weather the Senate impeachment trial in the Monica Lewinsky affair. But he is perhaps most famous for biting another political operative on the leg when he was not getting his way. Some 35 years later there are Democrats those who fear it could happen again.

Even Mark Penn, the chief Clinton strategist until recently, felt the lash of Mr Ickes's tongue: "Could it be that the vaunted 'chief strategist' of the vaunted Hillary Clinton campaign does not understand?" Mr Ickes asked when Mr Penn questioned an obscure point about the appointment of delegates.

The Ickes family has been advising Democratic presidents for decades. Mr Ickes' father, also named Harold, was a famously aggressive confidant to Franklin D Roosevelt, and served as his Secretary of the Interior for 13 years.

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