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Mr. Schmidt was communications director for the Republican National Committee under Rep. Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia, was one of the 2004 Bush campaign’s inner circle, worked for Mr. Cheney in the White House, and ran Mr. Schwarzenegger’s 2006 re-election bid. He then went to work for Mr. McCain.

Critics have called the campaign disorganized, and have said Mr. McCain needs to give his operation more direction to compete with Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, the presumed Democratic nominee, who fine-tuned his operation over the course of a bruising primary campaign.

A Republican campaign operative who worked with Mr. Schmidt said he is “not a brilliant analyst” in the vein of Bush strategist Karl Rove, but that he will bring vital organization to the campaign.

“People can argue about whether it’s the right strategy, but at least he can get everybody moving in the right direction,” said the operative, who asked for anonymity to be able to discuss a colleague more freely.

Mr. McCain made his first shake-up last July. With his campaign floundering and his fundraising failing, he ousted longtime adviser John Weaver and campaign manager Terry Nelson, put Mr. Davis in charge and went on to win enough delegates to secure the Republicans nomination.