Saturday, May 24, 2008

GOP Worries About McCain's "Lack of Progress"

The New York Times reports that Republican Party operatives are worried about the slow pace of organizational development in John McCain's presidential campaign:

Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign is in a troubled stretch, hindered by resignations of staff members, a lagging effort to build a national campaign organization and questions over whether he has taken full advantage of Democratic turmoil to present a case for his candidacy, Republicans said.

In interviews, some party leaders said they were worried about signs of disorder in his campaign, and whether the focus in the last several weeks on the prominent role of lobbyists in Mr. McCain’s inner circle might undercut the heart of his general election message: presenting himself as a reformer taking on special interests in Washington.

“The core image of John McCain is as a reformer in Washington — and the more dominant the story is about the lobbying teams around him, the more you put that into question,” said Terry Nelson, who was Mr. McCain’s campaign manager until he was forced out last year. “If the Obama campaign can truly change him from being seen as a reformer to just being another Washington politician, it could be very damaging over the course of the campaign.”

The ousters of some of the staff members came after Mr. McCain imposed a new policy that active lobbyists would not be allowed to hold paying jobs in the campaign.

Some state party leaders said they were apprehensive about the unusual organization Mr. McCain had set up: the campaign has been broken into 10 semi-autonomous regions, with each having power over things like television advertising and the candidate’s schedule, decisions normally left to headquarters.

More than that, they said, Mr. McCain organizationally still seems far behind where President Bush was in 2004. Several Republican Party leaders said they were worried the campaign was losing an opportunity as they waited for approval to open offices and set up telephone banks.
We heard similar arguments last summer, when McCain's bid for the nomination was on the ropes. Was the "maverick" about to drop out of the race? Nope. Who would have believed he'd be the last man standing at the end of the primary process?

We have a long way to go yet. McCain's been in politics a long time, and this is his second run for the White House. The GOP will pull together, and this election will be closely fought all the way to the finish line.

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