Conservative political pundit Bill Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, says its time for Republican presidential candidate John McCain to fire his campaign staff for its “toxic combination” of “strategic incoherence and operational incompetence.”
In an OpEd letter published Sunday in The New York Times, Kristol writes that if the race continues over the next three weeks to be a conventional one, “McCain is doomed.”
Kristol acknowledges that although the financial meltdown has made things tougher on McCain, he nonetheless is totally overmatched by Democratic rival Barack Obama, who’s campaign team is well organized, flush with resources and in sync.
“What McCain needs to do is junk the whole thing and start over,” Kristol suggests. “Shut down the rapid responses, end the frantic emails, bench the spinning surrogates, and stop putting up new TV and Internet ads every minute. In fact, pull all the ads — they’re doing no good anyway. Use that money for televised town halls and half-hour addresses in prime time.”
The McCain campaign was not too happy to hear Kristol’s comments and promptly fired back.
Appearing on Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto” Monday, McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said, “There are a lot of people on the sidelines that are willing to say whatever it is that comes to the top of their mind. I know Bill Kristol is an intelligent guy, I just think that what he had to say wasn’t very intelligent.”
For his part, Kristol says he’s not abandoning the ship. Monday morning on "FOX & Friends," Kristol stressed there is still time for McCain to win.
“Change the campaign,” Kristol told co-host Steve Doocy. “Look, McCain is a good candidate. Palin is an excellent candidate. They’ve got a campaign that has not been effective. They’ve run a million ads; I don’t think any of them is as good as a single voter. And where are McCain and Palin? I mean, literally — why isn’t one of them on “FOX & Friends” every day? Wouldn’t they get to more voters than with these ads and emails?”
Kristol says the problem with the McCain campaign is that it has too many routine spokesmen out on the trail spinning implausibly, veering the message back and forth from day to day, and hiding Palin from the media.
“If [they] think [Palin] was the right pick, put her on TV, put her on talk radio. Is John McCain the best messenger for his campaign? Why isn’t he on this show? Why do we have Tucker Bounds and a bunch of nice kids who are spokesman out there spinning implausibly on behalf of the McCain campaign?”
When asked if firing the campaign staff would send the wrong signal, Kristol said, "No. It would send the same signal [President] Bush sent when he replaced [former Secretary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld when we were losing the war in Iraq and put different people in charge, took command, overruled the generals and won the war.”
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