Yesterday, McCain did a major reorganization of his campaign staff, the second such shake-up in a year. But what should be setting off warning bells is the people who are now in charge of his campaign. McCain elevated Steve Schmidt to full operational control. Schmidt is considered a pupil of Rove, and he is a veteran of Bush’s 2004 presidential campaign. According to the NY Times, “Mr. Schmidt’s elevation is the latest sign of increasing influence of veterans of Mr. Rove’s shop in the McCain operation.”
Other Rove associates added to McCain’s campaign include Nicolle Wallace, communications director for the 2004 Bush campaign, as a senior advisor, who will travel with McCain. Greg Jenkins, another Rove veteran, has joined the McCain communications team.
Is it a coincidence that McCain has gone deeply negative in the last few days, attacking not only Obama, but Gen. Wesley Clark and Sen. Jim Webb? The Times also notes that, under Rove, Schmidt was in charge of the Bush campaign’s “war room” and that “one sign of Mr. Schmidt’s increasing influence in the campaign’s rapid response operation was the quickness with which it seized on a remark by Gen. Wesley K. Clark.”
Consider this a warning that McCain’s campaign is going very very negative. Get ready for the same nasty tactics that were used against McCain himself in Bush’s 2000 primary campaign.
UPDATE: They wasted no time at all — already releasing their first attack ad against Obama: