July 14, 2007

Overstating The Case

Normally I think Chris Cilizza's political analysis is top notch, but everyone has a bad day now and then -- and today is the day for Chris, Michael Shear, and Dan Balz. In giving the backstory on the conflicts behind the scenes that caused the housecleaning at Team McCain, they wildly overstate McCain's position in the race when it began:

After weeks of internal struggles over who would run John McCain's presidential campaign, three key aides went to the candidate in January and told him he had to take action. Rick Davis, the campaign's chief executive, they said, should be pushed aside, and McCain had to make it clear that Terry Nelson, the campaign manager and a veteran of President Bush's 2004 team, was in charge.

But the senator from Arizona refused, telling the three aides -- John Weaver, Mark Salter and Nelson -- that he would not strip Davis of his title or empower Nelson. "You're all equals," McCain told them, according to one participant. "Work it out."

For McCain, the onetime insurgent then firmly ensconced as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination [emphasis mine -- EM], it was a fateful decision. Instead of easing tensions among his most trusted advisers, it only exacerbated them, and for the next six months two warring factions clashed repeatedly as McCain's fundraising stalled and his poll numbers dropped.

This week McCain finally took a dramatic step, as his aides had urged him. But instead of moving Davis aside, he put him in clear control of the campaign. Nelson quit, Weaver resigned, and a dozen senior staff members went with them. With their departure, virtually no money in the bank, and the layoffs of dozens of other staff members, a campaign that once seemed on an inevitable march to the nomination has been left struggling for survival.

Firmly ensconced as the frontrunner? In January of what year? If the Post's trio means this year, they have not done much research. Polls before the last midterms put Rudy Giuliani as the frontrunner for the nomination, as I noted in October. Even in New Hampshire, where McCain remains one of the more popular Republicans, all he could do in January was to come up a percentage point behind Rudy. Since November, Gallup has shown Giuliani consistently ahead of McCain, and by January, significantly so.

Hell, even their own polling from last January shows Rudy beating McCain by seven points. He beat McCain by eight in December. When was McCain ever "firmly ensconced" as the frontrunner?

McCain took a big hit this week with this housecleaning, but anyone who has watched the campaign knows it was long overdue. It's going to be a problem in the short run and I still doubt McCain will come close to the nomination, but it's still only July. McCain raised only $3 million less than Mitt Romney did in Q2, and over two million more than John Edwards in a cycle that so far has favored Democrats. He's not dead until he decides to quit, and I don't think he would have bothered to do all of this retooling if he wanted to exit. And while he's certainly lost ground over the last few months, anyone saying that he was the undoubted frontrunner is either indulging in hyperbole or hasn't paid much attention.


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Comments (17)

Posted by Bullwinkle | July 14, 2007 7:36 AM

McCain was always the presumed front-runner of the media and they no longer feel any need to publish facts, presumptions are good enough. I don't know if they favor him because he's the least Republican acting of any of the leaders or because they're pretty sure he's not the threat to Democrats Giuliani, Romney and Thompson are but my guess is it's the latter.

Posted by RBMN | July 14, 2007 8:40 AM

McCain's problem is that he just doesn't like the base of his own party very much, and the Republican base is happy to return the favor.

Posted by howard lohmuller | July 14, 2007 8:59 AM

The story of John McCain is that he is a war hero and a man of demonstrated courage in his political life. He is certainly a dedicated and prodigious legislator. But he has not demonstrated his ability as an executive in a manner that inspires Republican Presidential voters. Remember his first mistake was being associated with the Keating 5 scandal. Then the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law blew up in his face. He led the gang of 14 RINO'S in the Senate incurring the ire of many Republicans. His latest misjudgement of backing the failed immigration bill zipped up the case against him becoming our Chief Executive. And in the background was the consistant chatter with the media, often to criticise other Republicans that kept him on the press's invitation list. Sometimes the end is the end.

Posted by Bennett | July 14, 2007 9:03 AM

Unfortunately for him, I think the Senator is several years past his "sell by" date when it comes to winning the Presidency. But I will never be able to think too harshly of him because unlike (most of) the rest of us, he truly did suffer in service to his country. He may not have my vote, but he will always have my respect. And I hope he reaches the proper conclusion about the likely success of his candidacy in time to withdraw gracefully and not become the GOP's answer to Dennis Kucinich, a joke candidate with no chance of winning.

Posted by courtneyme109 | July 14, 2007 9:33 AM

Maybe Senator McCain is at his best as an underdog - you know, clawing his way through the pack.

OTOH, I am reliably informed by voters down here in Hillbillyland that 2 events shot him down.

The 1st was in 2000. The Straight Talk Express got 'Bushwacked' in the GOP S.C. Primary. The senator lost and appeared as a sore loser, mean and kinda scary.

Perhaps the most telling self inflicted wound was the senator's recent championship of the Illegal Immigrant Amnesty Bill. Folks down here were flat tore up about it.

Seems they still hold the senator in awe and appreciate his contributions to America - from Naval Aviation to being a 'footsoldier' in President Reagan's GOP - yet his recent out of touch stance on immigration has marginalized his appeal.

As Bennet says - he will ALWAYS have our respect.

Posted by ggeisel | July 14, 2007 10:21 AM

Anti-free-political-speech, pro-open-borders John McCain sweeps himself into the dustbin of political history not mainly by his managerial incompetence, but by his inept politics. When he regarded his base with contempt, he resigned from the campaign, and so has the Republican Party.

Posted by gaffo | July 14, 2007 11:36 AM


McCain was never a front runner - and has been irrelivant since 2004 when he starting kissing Bush' butt and loosing all of his True Base - us Independants.

the fact he could not see that his actions taken (kissing Bush's butt) and support for Iraqnam would result in loosing his whole Base (us millions of Independants) - shows all of us that he lacks fundemental judgement ability.

additionally his lack of understanding that his votes on the Gang of 14/Campaign Reform years ago - tanked any solid support from the Republican Base permanently. Another failure of judgement no his part.

Many (including me) foresaw both way back in 2004 when he started kissing Bush' arse. I was like WTF are you doing McCain!! You have millions who will vote for you - as we did in 2000 and you are insulting them with every kiss you give Bush!! stop kissing him...stop..............stop.......................stop.

After about 8 months of their lovefeast - we got sick and McCain LOST US permanently. He made his choice and it was not us. McCain lost all Independant support - his whole base from the mid 90's-2000 around the start of 2005.

Now he has neither base - not the Independants nor the Republican (which he NEVER HAD).

Tip to the foolish - don't trade in a base you HAVE for one you are trying to get!! - you will end up with niether.

McCain will go down in history as the Man who would have become President had he run as an Independant or taken Kerry's offer as VP in the Democratic Nomination.

McCain is Presidental, but he is also his worst own enemy - to Hell with him. he only has himself to blaime.

Posted by ggeisel | July 14, 2007 11:48 AM

Just watching McCain on FOX: he's making climate change and national health care top priorities of his campaign, and promises that he will close Guantanamo and ban all torture on his inauguration day (I hope he will tell us what torture is: does listening to Hillary speeches count?).

Posted by Dave | July 14, 2007 12:04 PM

Probably 90% of the people who were touting McCain as the leader of the Reoublicna pack and as the lock for the Republicans a year ago were Democrats.

Think about it. As early as last summner, the Repulcian base had started to cut our ties with McCain during this Presidiential cycle. There was enough against him with HIS Campaign Finance Reform and HIS Gang of 14.

Yet, McCain still was a regular on Hardball, MTP, This Week and ayone else who would have him. Usually, he appeared as a party spokeperson along with his buddies from Nebraska, South Carolina and Indiana.

Remmeber the two headed monster, the McLugar? The McHagel? How about the fierce Luga McHagel?

The primary groups propping him up were his chearleders from the MSM, the liberal firebreathers and the elites.

My Democrat friends coud never understand it when I would say that McCain didn't have a chance when they brought it up LAST summer.

Sorry, but McCain's cheeleaders don't vote in Republican primaries.

The next time they take a poll, maybe they should limit comments on the Republican candidates to registered Republicans who are LIKELY to vote in their primary.

I don't give a rats rump who Chris Matthews would vote for in a Republican primary.

Posted by Carol Herman | July 14, 2007 12:56 PM

McCain's already been fired. And, he's not the only clown up on the nomination stage who is not getting any traction.

As a matter of fact, the way to tell someone IS getting traction is to watch the old media do their attacks. So, you've seen attacks on Fred Thompson. And, of course, on Guiliani.

The latest Guiliani attack was supposed to be called "swiftboatring." Alas, when there's no truth to your claims, it's more like WhiteWater Rafting in Arkancide, than anything else.

And, for some reason McCain's been free of getting attacked! Nope. I don't even feel sorry for him.

But the one link he has to stay relevant, at least so he can climb the stage? Well, that's easy. His position in the senate, on Irak. So, he's driving that train, now. TOOT. TOOT.

Only one guy is gonna get picked. And, I'm still for Rudy.

I think, too, Fred Thompson made a misstep; when he joined the fire department's UNION THUG in trying to attack Guiliani. (Who wasn't even mayor in 1993! While, you got it. The Clinton's were in the White House.)

Fred said he was just looking for support. While he got invited to meet the shillery union thug by ex-senator pot hole, himself, Al D'Mato. If that's who Fred's hanging out with, it seems there are better people now up working on other teams.

Anyway, if the GOP was doing so great, they wouldn't have had to fire their money raisers. And, it's here you'd learn a lot about McCain's campaign; because he's not attracting people to even send him $5.

Posted by Adjoran | July 14, 2007 1:05 PM

Cilizza has been generally reliable on the Post's blog, but neither Dan Balz nor Michael Shear has ever let the mere facts get in the way of the story they set out to write.

These guys - and their ilk - are one of the big reasons more people turn to blogs for coverage every day.

Posted by Carol Herman | July 14, 2007 4:03 PM

Methinks, McVain was actually running for more than one "seat."

In the beginning?

If he had been popular? You'd see him flirting with the Bonkeys; as a possible "shift-over." He doesn't stand a chance, there, either.

Then, of course, he wants to be Secretary of State. And, that's probably shrunken now. What winning candidate, would drive out of the box, like pelosi did in November 2006?

Dubya's had the most trouble building alliances. Then, he has even more trouble understanding how political capital gets built. He had depended on "just having it." And, 2004 went to his head. I'd hate to see another idiot like that become president.

But there's no question there are a lot of people out there vying for attention on their own.

And, as I said, Fred Thompson's misstep was in dancing with ex-senator pot hole, Al D'Mato, himself. Over the sham Firemen's union thugs attempts at doing a "swift boating."

It summer. So, lots of things fall by the wayside. Like the Queen's tantrum. Your eyes see her walking angrily; and she much prefers your believing that she walked IN to her photo shoot "angry." The BBC shaped themselves into pretzels denying the obious.

Since when is that good for the media? Letting the real stories go. And, letting the bullshit fly?

Posted by Ken | July 14, 2007 7:36 PM

RE: McCain's follies.

I guess for MSM, its entertainment to write about the continuing adventures of John McCain. For the average conservative, however, the idea of JM as a viable candidate is on the same level as Rosie becoming the Republican candidate.

It makes you wonder who is actually contributing to his campaign fund.

Posted by Rose | July 14, 2007 9:58 PM

Kay Bailey Hutchison barely cut her lifeboat dingy off his career ship in time to save her own boat from being swamped in the backflush of his own sinking.


Arizona Senator McCain Is Censured
by by Dennis Durband Saturday June 18, 2005 at 11:40 AM

the Arizona Republican Assembly (ARA) voted unanimously during its annual state convention to censure Arizona’s senior senator.

Arizona Republican Assembly Votes Unanimously to Censure Senator McCain

by Dennis Durband
No, Donald Trump, U.S. Senator John McCain has not been fired. On Saturday, the Arizona Republican Assembly (ARA) voted unanimously during its annual state convention to censure Arizona’s senior senator.
McCain has seriously alienated his conservative base in the 21st century. However, he has greatly enamored himself with liberals and he easily won re-election in November with his new liberal support base. The conservatives who make up the ARA membership have had enough of what they consider a betrayal by McCain and they took advantage of their annual resolution ritual to take action against the liberal metamorphosis of the presidential hopeful.
Continued -


The only chance in Hell McCain ever had was in CROSSOVER DIM VOTES.

Anyone who didn't know that was either dreaming, or DEAD asleep.

Posted by Rose | July 14, 2007 10:10 PM

THIS story ran a couple weeks before the unanimous CENSURE, that I posted about in the previous post, and has a little more information in it, too:



Senator McCain Facing Censure at Republican Convention

By Dennis Durband, Editor
June 5, 2005

Among the resolutions to be addressed during Saturday’s annual Arizona Republican Assembly (ARA) convention is an effort to censure

Arizona’s senior U.S. senator over his betrayal of the GOP on judicial filibusters and other important issues.


ALL the ideas anyone has that McCain is "Presidential" material is all purely PIPE material. And Liberal Socialist Pipe material at that!

Let it be ENOUGH of a warning to you that his own state party convention UNANIMOUSLY CENSURED him.

Posted by Rose | July 14, 2007 10:14 PM

It makes you wonder who is actually contributing to his campaign fund.

Posted by: Ken at July 14, 2007 7:36 PM


North Vietnamese leaders

Toady Chappaquiddick Kennedy

George Soros

Michael Moore

Hugo Chavez

Fidel Castro

Kim Jong Il

Chinese monks with a vow of poverty

Posted by ggeisel | July 16, 2007 12:02 PM

Carol, I haven't seen anything to refute the BBC's apologies for lying to its public. What's your source that supports the opposite of what the BBC itself is reporting?