McCain Meltdown

Jonathan Martin and Mike Allen have constructed an inside view of how the 2008 nomination went from John McCain’s to lose to one that John McCain has, apparently, lost.

The gist of the two-page analysis is that the biggest problems were:

  • A gargantuan campaign staff with no single person in charge or unified strategy
  • An undisciplined candidate who couldn’t resist telling prospective supporters where he disagrees with them
  • An unwillingness to use the prestige of his Senate office to raise money even though he was clearly running
  • The Republican nominating electorate dislikes and distrusts him

Indeed, I suspect the last of those would have ultimately made it impossible for him to win all by its lonesome. The gay sweaters didn’t help, either.

UPDATE: Bob Novak weighs in with even more insider info on the infighting among the recently fired staff operatives. The article’s titular question, “Can McCain Come Back?” goes unanswered.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. legion says:

    “It feels at times that somebody has put a voodoo curse on us,” said one McCain loyalist. “The timing has been consistently bad.”

    No, McCain put a voodoo curse on them. The reason the GOP electorate doesn’t like him is because he’s simply not the same candidate he was in 1999. After the Bush campaign ruthlessly smeared him, he made kissy-face nice-nice with them. This lost him a lot of respect among people on both sides (myself included) who respected his maverick image. Also, there’s the absolutely pathetic sacrifice of pretty much every principle he’s ever campaigned on to the altar of supporting GW Bush, which is totally inexplicable. He may have been trying to win a larger share of the GOP hard-core base, but he alienated every Dem and undecided that might have leaned his way – even if he’d made the GOP primary cut, he’s already made himself unelectable in a general contest.

  2. yetanotherjohn says:

    Crusading for what is right but unpopular may not help you win the nomination, but it might. Crusading to limit free speech and reward those who break the law is not crusading for what is right. That in a nut shell is the problem McCain is facing. The rest is window dressing that made a bad situation worse.

  3. Fersboo says:

    Good Riddance!

  4. Triumph says:

    Speaking of McCain’s campaign implosion and “gay sweaters,” I am surprised that you omitted that the co-chair of his Florida campaign operation was arrested yesterday for soliciting oral sex in a public bathroom.

    Vitter meets Haggard in support of Johnny M.!

  5. By hiring lots of staff McCain thought he would keep the talent away from other campaigns. Sort of like the Yankees-Red Sox free agent strategy.

    The key point is the final one. Since 2000 McCain has positioned himself for a general election. Winning a GOP primary always seemed secondary.

  6. bains says:

    Legion, like my die-heart democrat sister-in-law comes at McCain from the left. She pays lip service to McCain’s “principled” stances, then turns aghast when McCain professes support to the Presidents policies. My sister-in-law is only pretending to be politically open minded.

    As a McCain supporter in the 2000 election, I can say why I will never support his presidential aspirations. McCain-Feingold, the gang of fourteen, and comprehensive immigration reform. Foisting deals contrived outside the normal legislative process upon this country does not bode well for a presidential candidate.