July 9, 2007

McCain's Pain -- Fred's Gain?

The New York Sun reports that the recently terminated staffers from John McCain's campaign may not collect unemployment for long. Fred Thompson, supposedly disadvantaged in organizational strength by his late start, may benefit from his friend's electoral struggles:

The downsizing of Senator McCain's presidential campaign is coming at an opportune time for Fred Thompson, the former Tennessee senator who is likely to jump into the race officially any day now and seeking to build a campaign staff in the early primary states.

Struggling with a shortage of cash, Mr. McCain's campaign announced last week that it was laying off dozens of staff members, including about half of his paid team in Iowa and New Hampshire.

While there is no evidence of an outright pillaging of Mr. McCain's departed aides, Republican sources in those states say Mr. Thompson's emerging campaign is the likeliest landing spot. Aside from Mr. Thompson's obvious need for staff — assuming he enters the race — the two are closely aligned ideologically, and Mr. Thompson even endorsed Mr. McCain when he sought the White House in 2000.

The layoffs certainly come at a propitious time for Fred. Many analysts had sniffed at a late entry into the race for the former Senator, explaining that fundraisers and staffers had already aligned themselves with other candidates. Having so many experienced hands suddenly on the market in the key states of Iowa and New Hampshire could allow Fred to vault that obstacle easily, positioning himself for some momentum against Mitt Romney, who has already spent a lot of money in those states to build credibility for his candidacy.

As Russell Berman notes, the ideological shift for these staffers would be minimal to non-existent. Only two key issues separate Fred from McCain: immigration and perhaps campaign finance reform. On the latter, Fred co-sponsored the BCRA and provided one of only 11 GOP votes in the Senate in its support. Lately, though, he has acknowledged that the BCRA has not performed as expected, and that a different course (full disclosure) should be considered as a replacement.

Thompson has to act quickly in order to take advantage of the opportunity. He has not yet officially entered the race, which he needs to do in order to build his organization. His backers are chomping at the bit; as New Hampshire backer and former state Representative Daniel Hughes put it, "it's time to fish or cut bait." Rudy Giuliani is still hiring in these same markets, and while McCain's policy stands are much closer to Fred than to Rudy, these staffers aren't going to wait forever to jump onto the Fredwagon.

If Fred jumps in now, he can act to negate the one detriment resulting from his relatively late entry. We'll see if he takes advantage of the opportunity.


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Fred Thompson may hire a large number of the campaign staffers fired by John McCain last week, reports Russell Berman speculates in the New York Sun. While there is no evidence of an outright pillaging of Mr. McCain’s departed aides, Republican s... [Read More]

Comments (21)

Posted by Ron C | July 9, 2007 8:36 AM

Actually Fred moved to 'act quickly' weeks ago - and continues to do so, picking up staff from other campaigns.

He now has what some refer to as a 'huge campaign' for an undeclared candidate, and top campaign staff continue to sign up.

The delay-dynamic has been compelling - Fred's polling numbers continue to rise against candidates that have spent lavishly - while Fred banks formidable amounts.

But the advantages are drawing to a close, so expect the announcement shortly.

Posted by SkyWatch | July 9, 2007 9:08 AM

If I was Fred I would hate this story. McCain is the last person that he needs to take staffers from.

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | July 9, 2007 9:20 AM

It seems Fred! is doing just fine without the recycled cabal of insider advisers. Sound policies will always draw big audiences. Honesty does too, so there's minimal need to get spinmeisters to massage every issue to fit the pander.

Fred! might be better off getting his own team and avoid the old guard from McCain and Bush. They are the very ones who have ticked everyone off if it is them who are advising their respective bosses. In fact I figure some of the commenters here could do a much better job of advising seeing as they are still in touch with the folks... and they'd probably do it for considerably less.

Don't do it Fred! Get a clean slate since it is those ties to the "old" that will get the most negative play from the Democrats. Run against Bush to the degree that you are able and sell Classic Conservatism and not the New Conservatism that has been adopted so many RINOs with their desire for expanding government.

Posted by AnonymousDrivel | July 9, 2007 9:26 AM

Oops. "...adopted by so many..."

Posted by james23 | July 9, 2007 9:38 AM

"Only two key issues separate Fred from McCain: immigration and perhaps campaign finance reform."

How do you figure? Fred! vote for BCRA. And check his grade on Amnesty over at NumbersUSA (D). He's also a close friend of McCain. They look like very similar candidates to me.

Posted by Spectator | July 9, 2007 9:38 AM

Well said, Anonymous Drivel. As a matter of fact, I have ready that Dick Cheney's oldest daughter has a high profile position in Fred's campaign, and that makes me worry: Are the Bushies really in controle here?

I will not support Fred Thompson, or anyone else, if they do not make it clear that they are against illegal immigration and work proactively against it.

I'm through trusting these idiots.

Posted by Spectator | July 9, 2007 9:42 AM

Please excuse the two typos in my post. I get really excited when I write about illegal immigration because it is so important that we get it right.

Posted by Lew | July 9, 2007 9:47 AM

Fred! would do well to delay his official entry as long as possible, because as soon as he enters the race officially, he becomes just one of a group. As a non-candidate candidate, he can continue to be an independent power unto himself and continue to plausibly run against "politics as usual" instead of the others in the group. Group appearances tend to mush everyone together into a troop of issue mavens more suited to a legislative race. This is a race for the Presidency, an office with only one occupant. An individual, separate and apart from other individuals.

When he does finally become official, he would also do well to reject the traveling road show that the rest of the group have allowed themselves to be absorbed into by appearing in the perennial mass TV "debates". Unless Fred! can command an overwhelming stage presence (ala Jesse Ventura) that makes everyone else look like dough-faced bookends, then he would be well advised to set himself apart and above the fray by his absence. Again, the President is expected to execute his office as an individual and not a part of a group.

If Fred! is going to succeed, he needs to understand and extend his success as a non-candidate candidate. He needs to continue to project himself as an independent operator and the obvious choice to assume the powers of an independent executive. Once he climbs down into the pool with the rest of the boys and girls, he's just another face in the crowd screaming for face time.

Posted by SkyWatch | July 9, 2007 9:57 AM

I disagree Lew,

I am not sure if I will vote Repub next but if Fred doesn't get in soon he can not get over the negative stories that will come out and stay in.

Please Repubs and libs remember the dems have made it a art form to come out with last week attacks in the last few elections. They prove false but with a week to go or year to go you still need to attack back.

Posted by Mahon | July 9, 2007 10:27 AM

In the lonely crusade department, it is "champing" at the bit, not "chomping."

Posted by Dale Michaud aka TexasDude | July 9, 2007 11:43 AM

Remember the last President who relished being outside the establishment?

Yeah, it was Jimmy Carter!

Posted by viking01 | July 9, 2007 12:48 PM

McCain's power derived from two things:

Free advertising disguised as "news" from the Old Media sources. Chrissy Matthews, for example.

His ability to be a self-promoting spoiler when siding with the Left against the GOP majority before November 2006.

Now that Marxists Pelosi and Reid can't even tie their shoes without holding hearings on procedure ole McCain's spoiler role has greatly diminished alongside his sinking credibility on immigration policy.

As regards Thompson there's no doubt the activist Old Media is definitely worried by his potential for success. I hear Dan Rather has been very busy cleaning and testing his famous magic fax machine in Lubbock, Texas.

Posted by Bill Faith | July 9, 2007 2:20 PM

Spectator, Fred has made his stand on illegal immigration pretty clear; he wants it stopped and he'll work to stop it.

The BCRA thing may be a little tougher, but as Ed pointed out he's at least willing to admit that what looked good on paper didn't work out so well in practice and call for some changes.

I've been seeing a lot of speculation that part of the reason McCain's campaign is broke (in addition to his Open Borders stance) is that a lot of people who might have sent him money are waiting to see if a real Conservative enters the race.  Guess we'll find out for sure when Fred announces.

I added a link to my 2007.07.09 Decision '08 Roundup.

Posted by Red Wolverine | July 9, 2007 4:09 PM

No doubt Fred is the real deal. His brand of conservative populism is just what we need to keep the White House and win back the house in 08' - something that is seeming more and more of a possibility.

Can anyone say Thompson-Rice 08?


Posted by Lew | July 9, 2007 8:14 PM

Maybe I'm missing it SkyWatch, but I don't see Fred having any problem responding to any mudslinging directed at him so far, at all. As a matter of fact, he seems not to have very much to offer in the way of closet skeletons or anything smelly in his trail, like most of us would. And when the opposition research toadies do find something its so petty it makes them look small and desperate by comparison.

And one of the reasons for that impression is that, as a "noncandidate candidate", Fred is quietly cruising above it all while everybody else in the mud wrestling match on the ground is smearing each other and forcing positions to change and in general suffering the normal cuts and abrasions of real campaigning. Fred still controls his own program and can be seen acting rather than reacting and that's crucial for a Presidential hopeful as opposed to a legislative hopeful.

And as far as the Jimmy Carter problem is concerned, Jimmy demonstrated the strategy to a tee and then behaved like a perfect idiot after it worked for him. The man was, and still is, a moron! If anybody really wants to believe that anybody who uses the strategy is a moron too, then there's not much anybody can do to save you from yourself, because that leaves you with nobody to vote for but the same old same olds that have been screwing you for all your life.

The fact is, that the easiest opponent to run against on the entire landscape is "politics as usual" and if Fred can keep running against that opponent for as long as possible, he'll enter the official race positioned well in the lead.

Just the way I see it, that's all.

Posted by Rose | July 9, 2007 11:35 PM

If I was Fred I would hate this story. McCain is the last person that he needs to take staffers from.

Posted by: SkyWatch at July 9, 2007 9:08 AM


Even worse is to have people reminded how close their ideology is - but Capt. is right - After all, Fred managed McCain's 2000 attempt, and helped him get McCain Feingold through - because they are such good friends and such good ideological matches.

Fred still doesn't regret McCain Feingold, "something had to be done", he says, to this day - though he admits it needs a little tweeking, because it didn't clean up the FINANCING - "like he thought it would do".

So glad I already made up my mind about him.

Posted by Rose | July 9, 2007 11:48 PM

"Only two key issues separate Fred from McCain: immigration and perhaps campaign finance reform."

How do you figure? Fred! vote for BCRA. And check his grade on Amnesty over at NumbersUSA (D). He's also a close friend of McCain. They look like very similar candidates to me.

Posted by: james23 at July 9, 2007 9:38 AM

I think Fred adopted the "anti-amnesty" appearance when he decided to run, frankly.

But on top of those issues is the fact that in June of '07, he told Sean Hannity that the Perjury Charge of Bill Clinton's Impeachment WAS A "TRIVIAL MATTER".

It's a matter that I will not forget.

Posted by Rose | July 9, 2007 11:58 PM

If McCain wasn't such an egomaniac, I'd think this was a ONE-TWO PUNCH set up by the two of them, McCain and Fred, ahead of time, that if one of them faltered, the other would then step up to the plate - and maybe the second one would make sure the first was his pick for the ticket mate, if he got the Nomination.

I've been thinking that for a while, now...after I found out Fred managed McCain's last campaign...

Posted by Carol Herman | July 10, 2007 12:07 AM

Nah. I think Fred Thompson is smarter than that!

McCain and his people are RADIOACTIVE.

And, Thompson is going to parlay NOT being in the race. Since the July 4th date came and went.

The interesting pick up, though, goes to RUDOLPH GUILIANI. Who just brought Ted Olsen on board. And, not even Dubya was able to do that!

It's very possible that Fred Thompson is using this "entry" as a toy? To keep things interesting for those in there, now.

While besides McCain, I'd like to see Brownback also "drop off." Ditto, Tommy Thompson. And, it goes without saying: RON PAUL.

But Mike Gavel and Ron Paul are probably in it for the long haul.

Meanwhile, nobody ask Dubya what he thinks.

Posted by MoneyGuy | July 10, 2007 6:14 AM

Fred is off my list for lobbying for abortion. Go Huckabee!

Posted by Rose | July 11, 2007 2:33 AM

I had a chance to discuss Fred with my sister and her husband, this past evening. they are Conservatives, but don't get their news off the internet, and depend heavily on Fox, CNN, and local news.

I wanted to get a chance to see what some Conservatives who didn't visit the news blogs would be thinking aobut Fred.

My sister had never heard of him, but my b-n-l got very excited, he told her that Fred was the main prosecutor on Law and order and he'd vote for him.

Then I told them about Fred's POLITICAL history. My family all watched the Watergate hearings every single day, poring over the transcripts in the papers, while watching them on TV.

We gave equal time to Bill Clinton's impeachment.

Plus they had already heard enough about McCain Feingold when it came out, they knew the full rammifications of the few words I spoke - really - few - without the fine points of explanation.

They won't be voting for Fred, either.

Old Humphrey Bogart movie, "We're No Angels" - hilarious.

But this guy gets snakebit. He didn't know what it was (it was a pet of one of Bogie's pals) - it was so tiny, and it didn't hurt at all! So he asked them if they thought he ought to see a doctor.
Now, he and his uncle were so tight, they don't have a smart retort for "How tight was he?"
So when he asked if they thought he should see a doctor, they passed the question around among the three "Angels", and then passed an answer back among themselves back to him: "Save your money." Which delighted the man. He brightened considerably when he heard THAT.

I know that Fred doesn't want to "save the money" - not when most of it will flow THROUGH HIS OWN FINGERS - obviously the reason most of them run, at all!

But really - someone please tell Fred to save his money.