Word that John McCain campaign chief Rick Davis will give up day-to-day control of the campaign to Steve Schmidt should come as welcome news for McCain supporters. Davis was neither an idea man nor a message guy — two things McCain could desperately use. Moreover, Davis, in part because of lobbying controversies, made an ineffective spokesman. Schmidt brings experience from the successful Bush campaigns and is relentlessly on message.
Among the items Schmidt could attend to: develop an economic and reform message that moves beyond defending the Bush tax cuts, re-establish rapport with mainstream media outlets, drive the message of the day and the week relentlessly, engage McCain himself in a consistent critique of Barack Obama, articulate why the two candidates’ positions on the surge should be a determining factor for voters, and figure out how to demonstrate that, absent a teleprompter and script, Obama can’t function effectively.
There is plenty of grousing among conservatives about the Mcain effort but the race remains close and McCain’s problems are strategic and tactical not ideological — he dare not move farther Right if he hopes to retain independent voters. He does need clearer and more determined messaging — a task to which Schmidt is exceptionally well suited.