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July 3, 2008
McCain Shakes up Campaign
In light of this post I did yesterday about the McCain campaign and it's directionlessness and drift, word comes that the candidate has fired his campaign manager and replaced him with a seasoned pro:
Senator John McCain's presidential campaign has gone through its second shake-up in a year. Responding to Republican concerns that his candidacy was faltering, Mr. McCain put a veteran of President Bush's 2004 campaign in charge of day-to-day operations and stepped away from a plan to have the campaign run by 11 regional managers, Mr. McCain's aides said Wednesday.
The installation of Steve Schmidt, who worked closely with Karl Rove, at Mr. McCain's headquarters represented a sharp diminishment of the responsibilities of Rick Davis, who has been Mr. McCain's campaign manager since the last shake-up nearly a year ago. The shift was approved by Mr. McCain after several of his aides, including Mr. Schmidt, went to him about 10 days ago and warned him that he was in danger of losing the presidential election to Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, unless he revamped his campaign operation, two officials close to the campaign said.
Mr. Schmidt's elevation is the latest sign of increasing influence of veterans of Mr. Rove's shop in the McCain operation. Nicolle Wallace, who was communications director for Mr. Bush in the 2004 campaign (and in his White House) has joined the campaign as a senior adviser, and will travel with Mr. McCain every other week. Greg Jenkins, another veteran of Mr. Rove's operation who is a former Fox News producer and director of the presidential advance team in the Bush White House, was hired by Mr. Schmidt last week after a series of what Mr. McCain's advisers acknowledged were poorly executed campaign events.
As I wrote yesterday, the candidate has frittered away a sizeable time advantage by literally getting nothing done to turn his campaign from an operation geared to winning primaries to one that can compete in a general election. All campaigns have problems with this adjustment but the McCain camp failed to make much of an effort. There was no national message, no ryhme or reason to his campaign stops (the candidate is in Colombia today while domestic concerns occupy the attention of the American voter). And those events that were scheduled were poorly advanced and didn't seem to fit into any overall plan.
According to this excellent analysis by Allah at Hot Air, it appears McCain will be turning to Bush-Cheney vets to relaunch his campaign next week:
As the Times piece makes clear and ABC reiterates, the idea behind Schmidt's promotion is to start bringing in veterans of the Bush/Cheney machine to try to set things right; Schmidt managed their war room in 2004 and Greg Jenkins, who's coming aboard to limit the number of embarrassing green-screen speeches in the future, did advance work for Bush at the White House. The big operational shift, evidently, will be abandoning a plan to decentralize management of the campaign by outsourcing it to 10 regional managers.Is it too late to retool and relaunch? Not at this point. There is still 7 weeks to the convention which is plenty of time to put a national organization in place that can start recruiting the 2 million or so volunteers McCain is going to need to win. But the campaign must get organized and start unifying themes and message while tying them into events and media manipulation. McCain has already lost valuable time against a strong, well funded front runner.
He will not be vouchsafed another chance.