A blunt-talking pol from Baltimore, she has been in the Senate for 20 years. It’s time for a woman to be president, and particularly this woman, Mikulski bellows, and it’s time for other women to put her there, "whether you are working on macaroni-and-cheese issues or macroeconomics, whether you are tap-dancing backwards or tapping on your BlackBerry, even doing Pilates on the way."It’s a neat populistic wrap-up, a way to subtly sew up any split between at-home mothers and careerists or blue-collar women and their professional counterparts.When Hillary finally takes the stage, she projects confident capability. Wearing her standard campaign uniform of pants and a long jacket, she runs down all the ways she is best qualified to be president, emphasizing Iraq and Iran, the economy, the environment, healthcare, and family leave. It’s a smooth, polished delivery, given without notes, and Hillary works the stage as if she’d studied blocking and projecting rather than law at Yale. It is not sizzling or electrifying. It is, instead, almost terrifyingly competent. There is but one overture to gender: She recounts how a friend, remarking on Hillary’s status as a front-runner and therefore a target of opponents, saw a silver lining: "She said, ‘You know, when you get to be our age, having that much attention from all these men….’"The Women Behind the ScenesTo find out what makes Hillary Inc. run, I spend time with three of the women at its controls: Solis Doyle, Lewis and Minyon Moore, the 49-year-old director of outreach to African-Americans. The three are a diverse bunch, spanning generations and cultures. Solis Doyle, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, grew up in a tough neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. Moore, whose parents were postal service employees, is also from Chicago. Ann Lewis is the sister of Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.); she has been in politics since she was 15, when she gave out flyers for Adlai Stevenson. Also part of this inner circle are Mandy Grunwald, 50, the media director who started with the Clintons in 1992, and Neera Tanden, 37, the campaign’s policy director, who worked on policy in the Clinton White House. Grunwald is from New York intellectual royalty; her father was head of Time Inc. Tanden is Indian-American; her mother was on welfare for two years after her divorce, before she became a travel agent. Capricia Marshall, a lawyer who served as social secretary in the Clinton White House, is the daughter of a Mexican mother and a Croatian father who cried the first time he went to see his daughter at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.Together, these women are intensely collaborative and fiercely loyal to their leader. Critics of the campaign have looked at those characteristics and seen an insularity and rigidity that resembles the team George W. Bush brought to Washington from Austin."People have to remember there were eight years of a group of folks that grew together through thick and thin, and many of us are still friends," Moore responds. "And we are happy we are friends, because in the political world, friends come and go, but we manage to hang together."What she does not say — what no one closest to Hillary Clinton ever will say, because it’s family business — is that the women on this historic quest spent years cleaning up some major messes, mostly Bill Clinton’s. Herself, which is what insiders call the candidate when they don’t call her Hillary, was never the one who had the problems with impulse control.It’s two days before the blowout party for Hillary’s 60th birthday — an affair that will add $1.5 million to her campaign coffers. I’m sitting in the spacious corner office of Patti Solis Doyle, the campaign manager with a reputation for being notoriously close-mouthed. (More than one former staffer has begged off discussing Team Hillary with me, even in totally complimentary terms, "because Patti would kill me.") But today Solis Doyle is showing a different side. Slender and chic in a silky white blouse, wide-leg denim trousers and, yes, spiky black heels, she’s also open and animated. Funny, even.Perhaps it’s the holiday spirit — Halloween is just around the corner. "We’re going as Star Wars, the whole family," says Solis Doyle, aka Princess Leia. "I usually take the day off.