Should McCain Fire His Campaign Team?
Longtime McCain supporter Bill Kristol argues in his NYT column that it’s time for the Republican nominee to fire his campaign staff and try something new.
His campaign is totally overmatched by Obama’s. The Obama team is well organized, flush with resources, and the candidate and the campaign are in sync. The McCain campaign, once merely problematic, is now close to being out-and-out dysfunctional. Its combination of strategic incoherence and operational incompetence has become toxic.
There’s one wee little problem with this: McCain’s running the team. The reason they’re constantly throwing Hail Mary’s and flitting from issue-to-issue and attack-to-attack is because McCain wants it that way. He’s not and never has been a disciplined campaigner; he’s a seat-of-the-pants maverick. That’s often worked for him in the past. It revived him after all seemed lost in the primaries. It — along with external circumstances — are hurting him now.
What McCain needs to do is junk the whole thing and start over. Shut down the rapid responses, end the frantic e-mails, bench the spinning surrogates, stop putting up new TV and Internet ads every minute. In fact, pull all the ads — they’re doing no good anyway. Use that money for televised town halls and half-hour addresses in prime time.
And let McCain go back to what he’s been good at in the past — running as a cheerful, open and accessible candidate. Palin should follow suit. The two of them are attractive and competent politicians. They’re happy warriors and good campaigners. Set them free.
Provide total media accessibility on their campaign planes and buses. Kick most of the aides off and send them out to swing states to work for the state coordinators on getting voters to the polls. Keep just a minimal staff to help organize the press conferences McCain and Palin should have at every stop and the TV interviews they should do at every location. Do town halls, do the Sunday TV shows, do talk radio — and invite Obama and Biden to join them in some of these venues, on the ground that more joint appearances might restore civility and substance to the contest.
Now, I like this idea. It’s definitely how I’d like to see campaigns run. But there’s a reason they’re not. Negativity works. Short sound bytes work. Aside from must-see events like the debates and convention speeches, most undecided voters simply don’t have the attention span to watch 30 minute forums.