Republican candidate John McCain has put a hard-charging protege of Bush adviser Karl Rove in charge of day-to-day operations in his presidential campaign. Steve Schmidt, 37, ran California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2006 re-election campaign and the Bush-Cheney “war room” in 2004.
Campaign manager Rick Davis will now focus on fund-raising and long-term strategy.
This is the second shake-up in the McCain camp in a year. Many Republicans have been unhappy with what they see as a lack of focus and an inconsistent message.
"There are 125 days left until the American people will decide the next President. Senator McCain is the underdog in the race.... I will help run an organisation that exists for the purpose of running John McCain's mesage to the American pople," Schmidt told The Washington Post.
The elevation of Schmidt, who joined the Arizona senator's campaign as an adviser earlier this year, was also seen as a sign that the McCain camp would be tougher on Democratic candidate Barack Obama, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Under Schmidt, the Bush campaign?s war room was responsible for capitalising on opponents' mistakes.
In another sign of the campaign intensifying, an arm of the Republican National Committee announced it would launch its first round of advertising to support McCain?s candidacy this weekend. The ads highlighting the differences between McCain and Obama on energy policy will air in the swing states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania, ABC News reported. The bill: approximately $3 million.
Under the campaign finance law, the committee can spend no more than $19.1 million in coordination with the McCain campaign. But the cap does not cover “independent” arms — which cannot have any contact with the committee or the McCain campaign.
When Obama opted out of the public financing system, he cited the Republicans' ability to outspend the Democrats through such groups as a reason.