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Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune (Minnesota)

McCain Camp Puts Rove Man In Charge

New chief Steve Schmidt, right, a veteran of the Bush campaign, will focus on honing McCain's message. Republicans have complained the campaign lacked clear themes.

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Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign has gone through its second shake-up in a year. 0703 01 1

Responding to Republican concern that his candidacy was faltering, McCain put a veteran of President Bush's 2004 campaign in charge of day-to-day operations, and stepped away from a plan to have the campaign run by 11 regional managers, McCain's aides said Wednesday.

The elevation of Steve Schmidt -- who worked closely with Karl Rove -- at McCain's headquarters represented a sharp diminishment of the responsibilities of Rick Davis, who has been McCain's campaign manager since the last shake-up nearly a year ago.

The move is the latest sign of increasing influence of veterans of Rove's shop in the McCain operation. Nicolle Wallace, who was communications director for Bush in the 2004 campaign (and in his White House) has joined the campaign as a senior adviser, and will travel with McCain every other week. Greg Jenkins, another veteran of Rove's operation who is a former Fox News producer and director of presidential advance in the Bush White House, was hired by Schmidt last week after a series of what McCain's advisers acknowledged were poorly executed campaign events.

Schmidt will be in charge of finding a more effective message in his race against Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, who leads in most public polls.

Schmidt said McCain faces a difficult challenge, given the overall mood of the country, but said he is encouraged by the fact that Obama and McCain remain in a relatively tight race.

© 2008 Star Tribune

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