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 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 unless he revamped his campaign operation, two officials close to the campaign said.
The move of Mr. Schmidt is the latest sign of increasing influence of veterans of Mr. Rove’s shop in the McCain operation. Nicolle Wallace, 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 presidential advance 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.
Mr. Schmidt, 37, is one of the most intense, hard-driving figures in his party today: when he worked for Mr. Bush, his nickname in the campaign was “The Bullet,” a reference to the shape of his shaved head.
He has been at the center of some of the most politically significant Republican operations of the last 10 years. In working with Mr. Rove and Ken Mehlman, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Mr. Schmidt has become immersed in the use of data-driven methods to find and turn out Republican voters.
McCain appears to be running marginally behind though the MSM would have you believe that its a fait accompli. As a matter of fact intelligent folk have come up to me and asked do you really think McCain even has a chance? And are flabbergasted when I reply in the affirmative.
McCain needs to run a very good, calculating, campaign that establishes and sticks to message. 11 regional managers is a terrible idea and unworkable. The first job is to stay within striking distance in reality AND in perception to keep the interest of the core support as well as undecided independents. As long as it does that the result will depend on the electoral calculus.
Taking the results of 2004 where Bush won by 34 electoral votes McCain has a 16 vote cushion. A tie would throw the election to the state legislatures and the Dems have a 28-22 edge in governorships so that would be a bit dicey. More in the next post.