The wheels nearly came off the "Straight Talk Express" once during John McCain's latest run for the presidency. Now some Republicans are worried his campaign may be floundering again.
In an article in the Politico on Thursday, a raft of GOP insiders expressed concerns over the campaign's direction. An Oregon GOP strategist groused that McCain has "no staff presence" in that state. A Republican fundraiser called McCain's finances and grass-roots organizing in Florida a "work in progress," and another high-level Republican complained that McCain's effort "lacks the sophistication" of previous GOP contenders. Republicans are also warily eyeing Barack Obama's ability to raise money and organize around the country.
Obama "spent over $5 million on TV," Mark Jefferson, the executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party, told the Politico about the primary there in February. "McCain spent $180,000. And Obama's got far more ground troops."
But the real kicker comes from the article's authors, Jonathan Martin and Mike Allen, who compare Obama's campaign to an iPhone and McCain's to a pager. The complaints don't bode well for McCain -- in the Democratic race, both candidates at least get the respect of being likened to computers.
Steve Schmidt, a senior McCain advisor, said that all the talk of the candidate's trouble is overblown. He said the campaign would run "as sophisticated a campaign as has ever been in the history of presidential politics."
Of course, McCain has been battered in recent weeks. He has lost five staffers, and his image as an enemy of special interests took a beating when it was revealed that a handful of his top campaign aides had lobbying ties, including some with connections to the Burmese government. McCain has issued new conflict of interest guidelines for his staffers to try to stave off future problems. McCain's campaign also trailed both Democratic candidates' in fundraising in April; he brought in $17.8 million to Obama's $30.7 million. McCain's campaign sputtered last summer after he raised only $11 million in the second quarter of 2007 and two top aides resigned.