Tags: thompson | staff | leaving

Fred Thompson Campaign Bleeding Staffers

Thursday, 25 Oct 2007 12:29 PM

By Ronald Kessler

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Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign continues to have more departures than a Greyhound bus terminal.

Thompson personally hired Jim Mills, a highly respected Fox News producer, as his press spokesman. Two weeks later, after Thompson hired William Lacy as his campaign manager, Thompson fired Mills.

Mills gave up a hefty paycheck at Fox to join the Thompson campaign. He told friends he considered Thompson essential to the future of America. His firing outraged colleagues at Fox. Because Mills joined a campaign, his chances of being re-hired are diminished. He is still looking for a job.

J. T. Mastranadi, Thompson’s director of research, quit in horror after Thompson’s wife Jeri began taking attendance at campaign headquarters in McLean, Va., one late Friday afternoon. Jeri Thompson actually called staffers at home to ask where they were and why they should be paid.

“The younger ones thought they were going to lose their jobs,” a former staffer said. “The more established ones were offended and asked themselves, why do I need this? One asked if Jeri would be calling him at 1 a.m. to check up on him when he was doing campaign work.”

Despite that incident, Jeri, formerly with the Republican National Committee and Senate Republican Conference, is highly respected in Republican political circles.

“Message-wise, Jeri is great,” said a former staffer. “She understands him and how he is best presented. She is a very bright and a good political thinker.”

However, this week, Nelson Warfield, Thompson’s media consultant, left in disgust as well, Top advisor Mark Corallo quit previously.

Warfield was offended by Mills’ firing, Jeri Thompson’s meddling, and Thompson’s “lazy” approach to campaigning, according to one former staffer. Corallo left out of loyalty to Mills and dismay over what he considered Thompson’s mismanagement of the campaign.

Asked for comment, Thompson advisor Mary Matalin called a story about the departures “a very old item” that “very much mischaracterizes the campaign effort.”

She said Lacy was hired “to pull together a first class professional operation commensurate with the task at hand, namely, getting the best conservative elected, which is the only way to unite the party, which is the only path to beating the liberals next fall.”

Matalin said Lacy “has in fact accomplished his mandate above and beyond what anyone thought possible after the other money throwing campaigns vacuumed through the political community.” Lacy “is doing far more with are fewer and less paid staff who are all there because they believe in Fred,” Matalin said.

Many staffers who have quit or were fired felt Thompson misled them about the energy he would put into the campaign. While Thompson shows up at fund raisers, he leaves quickly and doesn’t spend much time making calls to raise money.

“That’s just distasteful to him, or else he’s busy doing other things,” a former staffer said.

Early on, Thompson told campaign aides he was not going to be frenetic. As they understood it, that meant he would not pop in and out of states. Instead, he would spend three or four days in a state like Iowa, for example.

“We thought he would be going from town to town, spending two hours at a time and talking to people,” a former staffer said. “Instead, he gets out of a bus and wears a baseball hat. The reporters laugh about it,” he said.

Often, Thompson attends a few events a week.

“Instead of an all-out campaign, it seemed he thought of campaigning as a break from the rest of his life, which entailed hanging out at home with his wife,” a former staffer said. Meanwhile, he noted, campaign aides are expected to work around-the-clock.

If Hillary Clinton is the candidate and Thompson is matched against her, the former staffer predicted a Republican disaster.

“Hillary is tireless,” he said. “She doesn’t take anything for granted. Nor do the rest of the candidates on the Republican side.”

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via e-mail. Go here now.

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