June 9, 2015

Bush Shakes Up Campaign Staff

imgresAfter a 6-month exploratory phase has left Jeb Bush flush with cash but sinking in early state polls, the former Florida governor has reshuffled his political team just one week ahead of his official campaign launch.

Dave Kochel, the top Iowa operative successfully wooed away from Mitt Romney’s camp, moved to Miami to serve as campaign manager.  Instead, Danny Diaz, a hard-charging consultant, will take the job, hoping to refocus the flagging Bush effort to establish himself ahead of his rivals. Kochel was informed of the change just one week ago.

The campaign reshuffling comes amid reports that Bush, who long suggested he’d run a “joyful” campaign, is preparing a bare-knuckle negative campaign to tear down his chief rivals. Sally Bradshaw, Bush’s longtime adviser and former Chief-of-Staff, cited the gains of Gov. Scott Walker and Sen. Marco Rubio as particularly worrisome.

For their part, the Bush team has denied any internal strife, claiming Diaz and Kochel are both well suited to their respective roles. The campaign also claimed they’ve raised more than $100 million in the first 6 months, a figure they’ve shied away from but are now embracing amid reports of donor angst and staff struggles.

Still, Bush is facing a tougher race than he ever expected, and this last minute change signals both an awareness of the difficulty he faces and a struggle to find a path forward against a group of younger, more exciting opponents than confronted by establishment frontrunners of the past.

November 19, 2014

Some Cold, Hard Facts about the Campaign Calendar

It takes more than just name recognition to get nominated for the President of the United States. It requires much preparation and a lot of hard work mostly behind the scenes. That preparation must begin months before the first primaries and caucuses. If a candidate does not prepare, he will not make it to the finish line.

First he must build up an organization. The organization is the one responsible for getting the signatures necessary to get on the ballot of a state’s primary. No staff, no signatures. No signatures, no name in primary. It is as simple as that.

There must be staff at the national level and the state level. The Federal Government has its set of election rules to follow. Each state has theirs. The candidates must hire experts in both in order to not run afoul of the law.

The campaign staff sets up the speech venues for the candidate. They must be able to predict accurately the size of the crowd expected and match the venue to it. They want a full venue. They don’t want people getting turned away. Nor do they want empty seats. Those look terrible when published on the Internet.

At every level there are a few high-quality campaign operatives available. They are the ones with many years of experience in running campaigns either at the federal level or at the state and lower level. They know what has to be done, what pitfalls to avoid, what mistakes not to make, which buttons to push, which knob to twist. These experts go fast. “If you snooze, you lose”, is the rule here. Any candidate that gets in late has to be content with the left-overs. So not only are they starting behind the rest of the pack, they will be doing it with inferior staff.


  2:00 pm
Campaign Hires, Campaign Strategy  

July 20, 2012

Keep an Eye on Robyn Hamlin

Of all the congressional races in the country this year, the one with the greatest potential for revolutionary change is that of Robyn Hamlin.

Robyn is a small business owner, small-government firebrand, and Republican candidate for US Congress in Missouri’s first district.  For nearly half a century, Missouri CD-1 has been represented by one family.  First Bill Clay, then his son William Lacy Clay.  This Democratic family dynasty has gone in lock step with increasing the national debt, instituting a government takeover of health care, and slashing civil liberties.  The local GOP establishment has provided no support to any of its congressional candidates, and many believe that it has actually made an under-the-table deal to keep the seat in Clay’s hands.

Robyn Hamlin was the party nominee in 2010 and garnered only 26% of the general election vote, but there has been a sea change in the district since then.

1). Because of the 2010 US census, Missouri lost a congressional district, and so CD-1 absorbed a lot of new voters from surrounding districts, which has caused Republican numbers in CD-1 to rise by a whopping 10% or so.

2). Because of redistricting, incumbent Congressman Russ Carnahan is challenging incumbent Congressman William Lacy Clay in the same primary, and it’s shaping up to be a bloodbath.  Whichever Democrat emerges will be badly bruised amongst his own party in the general election.

3). No Republican nominee in Missouri’s CD-1 has ever been able to receive any support or resources for the local GOP establishment, but this year, Robyn went over the local party’s heads and hired David Adams (campaign manager for Rand Paul’s 2010 Senate run) and Dave Nalle (strategy advisor to Ted Cruz for Senate 2012).  Together, they have put together a strong and serious campaign.

For the first time in half a century, conservatives have a chance to flip a long-standing blue district into the red column.  Consider sending $20 or $30 her way and contributing to what may be one of the biggest upsets of the season.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I am also proud to be consulting her campaign.)

April 5, 2012

Romney Names Ed Gillespie Senior Advisor

From the official release:

The Romney for President campaign today announced that Ed Gillespie, the former Republican National Committee Chairman, will join the campaign in a voluntary role as a Senior Adviser.

“I am pleased that Ed is joining my team,” said Mitt Romney. “He brings a wealth of experience that will prove invaluable in the political battle that lies ahead. Barack Obama is building a $1 billion campaign war machine, and Ed will play an important role in countering it. He’ll help in bringing Republicans and all Americans together behind my campaign and in communicating our message that America can do better than the chronic high unemployment, slow economic growth, and bitter political divisions that are Barack Obama’s primary accomplishments.”

On joining the campaign as a Senior Adviser, Ed Gillespie said, “I’m excited to join Mitt Romney’s campaign team. His plan to reduce taxes, balance the federal budget, strengthen our national security and protect innocent human life stands in sharp contrast to the ruinous policies of President Obama. His record of strong leadership as governor and proven history of great accomplishment in both the public and private sectors show he has the ability to make the tough decisions needed to be a good president, which is sadly missing right now.”

Background On Ed Gillespie:

Ed Gillespie Is The Former Republican National Committee Chairman And A Former Counselor To President George W. Bush. For 25 years, Ed has worked to advance conservative principles and elect Republican leaders. He was a longtime top aide to former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and helped craft 1994’s “Contract with America.” He worked on President George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign and served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee in the 2004 presidential election cycle.

In 2007, he was named Counselor to the President of the United States.

  9:00 am
Campaign Hires, Mitt Romney  

February 2, 2012

The Power of Surrogates

One of the most impressive things to witness in the 2012 Republican Primary for me has been to see the organization and collaboration of Mitt Romney’s campaign team. Where other candidates did their best to criss-cross the early states, attend fundraisers, cut advertisements, do TV appearances and radio interviews, hold conference calls, and do all the other things that are part of running for President largely on their own, Mitt Romney’s team was a political hydra. While Tim Pawlenty and Jason Chaffetz held a teleconference for reporters, Chris Christie was doing townhalls for supporters, Mitt was out giving speeches on the stump, and the Florida Congressional delegation was cutting ads for the campaign. It was a lesson not only in multi-tasking, but in the full utilization of all available resources – and Mitt schooled everyone at it.

This is one of the reasons I am confident that Mitt Romney, now our presumptive nominee, is by far the greatest candidate available to take on Barack Obama. For the general election, it is not going to be just Mitt Romney by himself out there taking on the Obama machine. Chris Christie, Tim Pawlenty, Bob McDonnell, Nikki Haley, Kelly Ayotte, John Sununu, and dozens more will be out campaigning for him as well. Defending him on morning news shows. Attacking Obama for him. Talking to their constituents on his behalf. Leading multi-pronged attacks.

Who does Obama have? Nancy Pelosi? Harry Reid? David Axelrod? Seriously? You think those folks are going to sway American opinion?

If you are looking for a reason why endorsements matter, just take a glance at how Romney has utilized his endorsers as surrogates this primary season. And then imagine him using them again as surrogates in the general election against Barack Obama. The Romney campaign’s ability to drive a very focused message across several fronts at the same time has been impressive to watch, and we will get more displays of Romney’s organizational prowess and competence come general election time. I can hardly wait.

Update: I’m not the only one taking note of Romney’s use of his supporters as surrogates: CNN Political Ticker has a story out about how Romney won the Florida primary, noting that “Romney’s campaign unleashed an army of surrogates” to campaign for him and take down Newt Gingrich. This is really fun to watch – unless, of course, you are on the receiving end of that army’s offensive.

October 25, 2011

Perry’s New Strategy: “Savage Assault” to “Totally Destroy Romney”

Politico has an interesting piece up about Perry’s campaign relaunch, as he attempts to resurrect his chances in the primary race. The relaunch begins with the tax plan announcement today in South Carolina, and then moves to stage two: a blitzkrieg of negative advertisements, focused like a laser at Mitt Romney.

A negative ad campaign is the specialty of Rick Scott’s campaign team — which Rick Perry hired yesterday. And according to Republican operatives, this thing is going to get ugly:

“[T]hey believe that if they can kill Romney, no one else can get the nomination but Perry,” Castellanos said. “I expect that a few Perry positives will soon hit the TV airwaves, but they will just be cover for a brutal assault on Romney from the Perry campaign and his super PAC.”

He warned: “Perry won’t just go negative. He’ll make your television bleed and beg for mercy.”

One Republican operative familiar with the work of Perry’s new team expressed concern that the coming campaign could be so negative as to “jeopardize the general election.”

“They want to destroy Romney, and they don’t care if there is no GOP elephant left,” the operative said. “Total destroy mission. And Perry’s bought into it.”

Another Republican braced for a savage assault on Romney that could weaken the GOP for the fight against President Barack Obama: “If there’s no party left, there’s no party left, and that’s what Axelrod and Obama’s guys are hoping for.” (Emphasis mine.)

Rick Perry has $15 million to spend on this “savage assault”… and whether you’re a Romney fan or not, you’ve got to be concerned about Team Perry’s attitude. This does not bode well for the party after the primary is over.

October 24, 2011

Rick Perry Hires the “Strategic Core” of Rick Scott’s Campaign Team

One Rick hires another Rick’s team:

As his campaign seeks to re-establish itself in the top tier of the Republican presidential nomination fight, suggest that Texas Gov. Rick Perry is hiring on a series of consultants who last worked together on the 2010 campaign of Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Curt Anderson… and Nelson Warfield will bulk up Perry’s media and advertising operation while Tony Fabrizio will help direct polling. Anderson, Warfield and Fabrizio were the strategic core of Scott’s operation in the last election — a race where the one-time health care executive spent tens of millions on ads that blanketed the Florida airwaves and delivered him a somewhat unexpected victory.

It has long been known (or at least strongly suggested) that Rick Perry will get Rick Scott’s endorsement (if Perry is still in this thing by the time Florida rolls around), so that angle to the story is no big surprise.

The interesting aspect is that this would suggest Perry is doubling down on Florida as the last great hope for his flailing campaign. Given the final primary calendar, it makes sense (although, if he can’t win Iowa or South Carolina, he’s going to find himself in Rudy Giuliani ’08 territory). Also, as Hotline notes, the fact that Perry has extended his inner circle to include these three guys would seem to indicate that Perry knows he’s flailing and needs some help that his current team cannot provide to him.

  2:29 pm
Campaign Hires, Rick Perry  

October 6, 2011

Romney Unveils Foreign Policy & National Security Advisory Team

Romney has released the list of folks that are on his Foreign Policy & National Security Advisory Team, and it is nothing short of incredibly impressive. For the full list of names, jump below the fold – here are some highlights:

  • Cofer Black – Director of the CIA Counter-Terrorism Center (1999-2002); United States Department of State Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism (2002-2004)
  • Michael Chertoff – United States Secretary of Homeland Security (2005-2009)
  • Paula Dobriansky – Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs (2001-2009)
  • Eric Edelman – Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (2005-2009); Principal Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs (2001-2003)
  • Michael Hayden – Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2006-2009); Director of the National Security Agency (1999-2005)
  • Robert Joseph – Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security (2005-2007)
  • James Shinn – Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs (2007-2008)
  • Mary Beth Long – Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (2007-2009)
  • Meghan O’Sullivan – Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and Deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan (2004-2007)

Again, the full list is below the fold. This is a highly and impressively experienced foreign policy team the likes of which I would venture to guess no other candidate will come close to replicating. This team is unveiled the day prior to Romney’s major foreign policy speech in South Carolina tomorrow.


  1:45 pm
Campaign Hires, Endorsements, Mitt Romney  

August 31, 2011

August 25, 2011

The Day of Endorsements

Yesterday was the Day of Endorsements in the GOP primary race: Mitt Romney won some love from Camp Pawlenty, Iowa, and New Hampshire; Huntsman got a nod from Georgia, and Perry nabbed an important Florida leader.

In addition to picking up the backing of Vin Weber, Romney was also endorsed by two other former Pawlenty supporters: Iowa State Representative Linda Miller and Dallas County (Iowa) Recorder Chad Airhart. Two other Iowa political activists endorsed Romney yesterday as well – Kristin Moran and Jacqui Norman – for a total of four Iowa endorsements.

Adding to his nods from Team T-Paw and Iowa, Romney was also endorsed by former New Hampshire Senate President Tom Eaton, a big name in New Hampshire politics. During some of Romney’s campaign stops in New Hampshire yesterday, he previewed what is likely to become a key line in his stump speech as he attempts to regain some momentum and blunt the ascension of Rick Perry:

“There will also be some differences, and in my case I won’t just have been somebody who watched jobs be created, I actually created jobs. I’ve had that experience. I spent my life in the private sector. I’m a business guy; I’m a conservative businessman; I’m not a lifelong politician,” Romney said. “I spent four years in government. I joke that I didn’t inhale.”

Meanwhile, Jon Huntsman visited the homestate of Gingrich and Cain to speak to their state House of Representatives. While there, Huntsman announced the support of the longest-serving Republican in the state House, Earl Ehrhart. Ehrhart’s son is currently serving with Huntsman’s son at the Naval Academy, so the family connections probably mean this endorsement isn’t quite the big shot in the arm the Huntsman campaign is looking for as they try desperately to gain traction in the race.

And finally, Rick Perry got in on the endorsement action as well, landing a big get in the key battleground state of Florida: speaker of the House Dean Cannon. As Politico notes, “The Republican legislator is one of the highest profile figures in Florida politics, and his backing will help Perry establish a beachhead of official-side support in the Sunshine State. Cannon will also play a key role in determining the date of the Florida primary, which is currently set for Jan. 31, in violation of Republican National Committee rules.”

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