It's become fashionable to write obituaries for John McCain's presidential campaign, and the recent housecleaning at the Straight Talk Express has convinced many that McCain will end his bid sooner rather than later. Chris Cillizza at The Fix reports that John McCain is not among those so convinced. The Senator has met with staffers to draw comparisons between the status of his campaign and that of another Republican, who went on to some degree of success. Chris reviews two memos making the rounds:
The first document seeks to draw parallels between Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential bid and the current state of McCain's operation. "During the summer of 1979, Ronald Reagan's campaign reported that it was broke," begins the memo. "The candidate had to explain his weak fundraising and big spending, as well as overcome doubts about his age and ability." After firing much of his top campaign staff just before the New Hampshire primary, he went on to win that ballot, the GOP nomination and the presidency. "Ultimately when Ronald Reagan took control of his own campaign, he started to see successes," the document reads. ...
The second memo is far longer and more detailed -- seeking to explain McCain's potential path to the Republican nomination.
"The 2008 primary election is dramatically front-loaded," it reads. "We believe that puts more pressure on candidates to win early primary states than ever before.["]
Essentially, the strategy comes down to better fiscal management and a surprise win or two before the first Super Tuesday. Much the same as Mitt Romney does, McCain believes that a big win in Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina will give him both credibility and momentum going into the massive February 5th primaries. That could work, especially for Republicans, who usually work hard to close ranks early in the primary season.
However, it will take some doing for McCain. He has to retool his campaign to end the bleeding. They have raised a very respectable $24 million so far this year, but had to spend $22 million doing it. That's why McCain streamlined the operation this month, trying to hold down costs and slim operations that didn't give commensurate value. His fundraising numbers in Q3 will be critical to his credibility. If he can turn that around, then the comparison to Reagan may hold some water.
In order to get there, he needs to focus on his strengths. That means national security, the war on terror, and his personal story. McCain and his team need to get their man closer to the people and farther away from the ivory tower. People respond to McCain when they meet or talk with him in a manner they do not when they only see him on television. If he's going to regain his mojo, that's how it'll happen. Don't expect McCain to quit any time soon, in any case.
I'll be interviewing Senator McCain on today's CQ Radio show, at the special time of 2 pm ET/1 pm CT. Be sure to catch it live!