GOP Party Pros Worried About McCain Campaign

You don't have to be a political rocket scientist to see that the McCain campaign has gotten off to something of a rough start. Obama has led with his chin on several occassions only to have McCain miss the mark or fail to engage altogether.

Most recently, it has been energy policy. There doesn't seem to be a consistent message emenating from the McCain camp. His plan is fine - except the part about cap and trade as well as his stubborn refusal to drill in ANWR. But selling the plan while showing how Obama's energy policies won't bring one drop of oil to a tight market has been non-existent.

Republican party insiders are beginning to worry that the campaign is lagging in several areas - fundraising, message, and organization. This piece by David Kuhn in Politico might open a few eyes in the McCain campaign and light a fire under them:


Here is where the problem is: We had a nomination gap between when McCain was nominated and the Democratic race completed," a swing state Republican Party chairman said. "I think [campaign manager] Rick Davis and his team did not have an understanding of how the grass-roots, organizational part of the party works. They did not use what the [Republican National Committee] had done, or how groups like the [National Rifle Association] could have helped the McCain campaign locally.

"They are just now opening up campaign operations in most states. The RNC was ready to go in most states in March," the state chairman continued, listing off grievances ranging from the campaign's "dictating" the members of various RNC committees to the state party's having been "threatened" that, though McCain "couldn't afford not to play in our state," the campaign would not "recommend us for resources" if the state party did not abide by its requests.

One frequent criticism surrounds the widely held perception that the campaign has failed to define or convey a consistent narrative against Obama - something that many Republicans insist should have begun right after Obama captured the nomination.

"What's the political strategy when you allow your opponent, who has just had a grueling four months, time to catch their breath, regroup, fundraise and start to define himself?" asked a Republican strategist who helped lead a past presidential campaign. "It's politics 101."

Several consultants from past GOP campaigns were even more frustrated by what they viewed as a reluctance to attack - textbook strategy for an underdog.

A "reluctance to attack" indeed. McCain is confusing criticizing the record and plans of his opponent with "smears" - something the Obama campaign has taken full advantage of. Every time McCain has tried to draw a distinction between himself and Obama, some surrogate for the Democrats accuses McCain of dirty politics. At that point, McCain tones down his rhetoric and the attack turns to mush.

McCain wasted a golden opportunity in the spring to redefine Obama by highlighting his radical associations and raising questions about the candidate's judgment. He still has time to make that case but his window of opportunity is closing. But the candidate seems uninterested in engaging Obama on that score and it appears he may allow the Ayers/Dohrn/Wright/Rezko millstone to slip from around Obama's neck. And with no 527 group to pick up the slack, a very promising avenue of attack appears to be left behind.

As the article points out, most pros think it is not too late for McCain to get it in gear. But with the 4th of July indicating the middle of summer is upon us, the GOP candidate doesn't have much time to get it together.


 

You don't have to be a political rocket scientist to see that the McCain campaign has gotten off to something of a rough start. Obama has led with his chin on several occassions only to have McCain miss the mark or fail to engage altogether.

Most recently, it has been energy policy. There doesn't seem to be a consistent message emenating from the McCain camp. His plan is fine - except the part about cap and trade as well as his stubborn refusal to drill in ANWR. But selling the plan while showing how Obama's energy policies won't bring one drop of oil to a tight market has been non-existent.

Republican party insiders are beginning to worry that the campaign is lagging in several areas - fundraising, message, and organization. This piece by David Kuhn in Politico might open a few eyes in the McCain campaign and light a fire under them:


Here is where the problem is: We had a nomination gap between when McCain was nominated and the Democratic race completed," a swing state Republican Party chairman said. "I think [campaign manager] Rick Davis and his team did not have an understanding of how the grass-roots, organizational part of the party works. They did not use what the [Republican National Committee] had done, or how groups like the [National Rifle Association] could have helped the McCain campaign locally.

"They are just now opening up campaign operations in most states. The RNC was ready to go in most states in March," the state chairman continued, listing off grievances ranging from the campaign's "dictating" the members of various RNC committees to the state party's having been "threatened" that, though McCain "couldn't afford not to play in our state," the campaign would not "recommend us for resources" if the state party did not abide by its requests.

One frequent criticism surrounds the widely held perception that the campaign has failed to define or convey a consistent narrative against Obama - something that many Republicans insist should have begun right after Obama captured the nomination.

"What's the political strategy when you allow your opponent, who has just had a grueling four months, time to catch their breath, regroup, fundraise and start to define himself?" asked a Republican strategist who helped lead a past presidential campaign. "It's politics 101."

Several consultants from past GOP campaigns were even more frustrated by what they viewed as a reluctance to attack - textbook strategy for an underdog.

A "reluctance to attack" indeed. McCain is confusing criticizing the record and plans of his opponent with "smears" - something the Obama campaign has taken full advantage of. Every time McCain has tried to draw a distinction between himself and Obama, some surrogate for the Democrats accuses McCain of dirty politics. At that point, McCain tones down his rhetoric and the attack turns to mush.

McCain wasted a golden opportunity in the spring to redefine Obama by highlighting his radical associations and raising questions about the candidate's judgment. He still has time to make that case but his window of opportunity is closing. But the candidate seems uninterested in engaging Obama on that score and it appears he may allow the Ayers/Dohrn/Wright/Rezko millstone to slip from around Obama's neck. And with no 527 group to pick up the slack, a very promising avenue of attack appears to be left behind.

As the article points out, most pros think it is not too late for McCain to get it in gear. But with the 4th of July indicating the middle of summer is upon us, the GOP candidate doesn't have much time to get it together.