Report: McCain campaign shakeup promotes 'Bushworld veterans'
Apparently undeterred by accusations that he is running for George W. Bush's third term, Republican presidential candidate John McCain is shaking up his campaign staff to promote several "Bushworld veterans" to top positions, according to a new report.
Politico's Jonathan Martin reports that Steve Schmidt, a senior communications aide in the Bush-Cheney '04 campaign, is now in charge of the "day-to-day operation" of McCain's White House run. The shakeup has created some confusion within McCain's team about who's really running the show.
Schmidt's ascension seems to foretell McCain's campaign shifting towards more personal attacks aimed at Barack Obama. In a campaign memo released last week, Schmidt accused Obama of "self-serving partisanship" and of putting his own needs before those of the country.
The move to promote Schmidt came after "a sluggish ramp-up to the general and number of unforced errors had left the candidate, senior staff and elected officials unhappy with the state of the campaign," Martin reports.
Sources tell Martin that Schmidt, who also ran California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's re-election effort, will coordinate McCain's daily message and "have an increased role in shaping most every facet of the organization," leaving current campaign manager Rick Davis, a former lobbyist, to focus more on big-picture issues.
Now, accounts diverge on the exact nature of the new chain of command. One top McCain source said that Schmidt "assumed full operational control of the campaign today" and described Davis as "a general manager."
But Charlie Black, another top adviser, said Davis was still in charge.
"Steve is going to function under Rick as a [chief operating officer]," Black said. "Rick still has authority over all things. Steve works for Rick."
One of McCain's earliest hires, Schmidt joined the campaign as a communications adviser in December of 2006.
Schmidt is a a veteran of the Bush White House and protege of Karl Rove, Bush's former top political opperative.
Martin reports that several other "Bushworld veterans" are taking on larger roles in the campaign, including Matt McDonald, who worked for the '04 campaign; Taylor Griffin, a former White House spokesman; and Mike DuHaime, who managed Rudy Giuliani's own failed presidential campaign.