McCain overhauling his troubled campaign

first_imgMcCain has been closely identified throughout his career as an advocate of curbing the influence of money in politics, notably as the co-sponsor of a landmark bill limiting political contributions. He criticized Bush for overly aggressive fundraising efforts when the two were opponents in the 2000 Republican primaries. McCain has also enlisted two senior advisers and put them in charge of a fundraising effort that campaign aides described bluntly as having been in disarray and without a single person in charge. They are Tom Loeffler, a former Texas congressman who was named the campaign’s national campaign finance chairman, and Steve Schmidt, who ran California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s re-election campaign. McCain’s aides said that contributors, campaign aides and perhaps even the candidate, an experienced and successful fundraiser, had been lulled into complacency. For much of the past year, supporters had portrayed him as not just the front-runner, but practically the inevitable nominee. “This is a moment that has truly defined what needs to be done with respect to political fundraising,” said Loeffler, whom McCain elevated to run the fundraising effort at the first signs of trouble three weeks ago. “What it has shown for this team is that this is not a jog. This is a sprint.” John Weaver, McCain’s senior adviser, said: “We have a responsibility to make sure this doesn’t happen again and that we fix it.” If the campaign as a whole has seen its optimism deflated, the candidate’s speech on Iraq, too, comes as Democrats are assailing McCain for an overly optimistic view of conditions in Iraq, where he toured a Baghdad market clad in a bulletproof vest and protected by helicopters and armed guards. Democrats suggested that McCain had become so committed to building up forces, which he has long favored, that he failed to understand what was going on around him. McCain’s aides disputed that contention Tuesday, saying he was relying on the assessment provided him by Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the U.S. forces in Iraq. They said he was mainly chastising reporters in Baghdad for focusing on bad news coming out of that country, disregarding what McCain said were encouraging turns of events there.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – Lagging in fundraising and under fire for his support of the Iraq war, Sen. John McCain is overhauling his campaign-finance operation and delaying the official announcement of his candidacy, his aides said Tuesday. They said he would adopt the kind of big-donor fundraising program pioneered by President George W. Bush and give a speech explaining his support for the administration’s troop buildup in Iraq. The maneuvers come at a time of sharp anxiety in his camp, especially about his trailing all the major Republican and Democratic presidential candidates in fundraising. The concern grew after McCain’s visit to Iraq over the weekend, when he asserted that conditions there were improving. McCain’s aides said that, to deal with his fundraising problems, he would adopt what was a centerpiece of Bush’s fundraising technique, one that has been embraced by most major presidential candidates: creating an honorary campaign designation to reward the campaign’s top money raisers. Bush called his Rangers and Pioneers. McCain will call his the McCain 100s, for supporters who collect $100,000 for the campaign, and the McCain 200s who collect $200,000 each. last_img read more