Tuesday, July 3, 2007

McCain cuts staff

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, reorganized his campaign yesterday, cutting staff in every department after raising just $11.2 million in the past three months and reporting an abysmal $2 million cash on hand for his 2008 presidential bid.

“We confronted reality, and we dealt with it in the best way that we could so that we could move forward,” Terry Nelson, Mr. McCain’s campaign manager, told the Associated Press.

Once considered the front-runner for the Republican nomination, Mr. McCain trails top Republican rivals in money and polls.

A McCain campaign organization employee who asked not to be identified told Ralph Z. Hallow of The Washington Times that the cuts were far worse than predicted.

“This wasn’t a trimming of staff, as some expected. It was a bloodbath, a total shock,” the McCain employee said, adding that “100 staff members were called in today and let go — with two weeks” notice.”

He said the campaign is extremely strapped for cash, so much so that the fired staff members aren’t sure when they will get paid.

“We were told we’d get two weeks” pay, but they told us they were not sure when we’d get the money,” the McCain campaign worker said.

The employee said that Mr. Nelson called the meeting yesterday. “Terry said, ‘I’m still working for the campaign, but I won’t draw a salary anymore,’ ” the McCain employee said.

Mr. Nelson’s words were greeted with bitterness by some fired staff members, some of whom had turned down other job offers within the past two weeks because they said they had no inkling that such a massive layoff was in the works — or that the campaign had continued to spend lavishly while raising disappointingly small sums of money.

Political workers went from 45 to seven and communications staff went from 24 to four after yesterday’s firing. Some divisions of the campaign were completely dissolved, the McCain employee said.

‘Stiffen spines’

Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, yesterday called for the U.S. to confront Iran — possibly with militarily force — after U.S. military officials reported that Iran was training Iraqi Shi’ite fighters, reports S.A. Miller of The Washington Times.

“These revelations should be a wake-up call to the United States about the threat posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, as well as a reminder why Iraq is, in fact, the central front of the global war on terror,” said Mr. Lieberman, a hawkish former Democrat who lost his party’s 2006 primary because of opposition from antiwar groups, but then ran as an independent and kept his seat anyway.

Mr. Lieberman’s remarks were intended to tell the Democrat-led Congress that it was time to “stiffen spines,” as well send a message to Iran that the U.S. knows what it’s up to and will not stand for it, a person familiar with the senator’s thinking told Mr. Miller.

“Although no one desires a conflict with Iran, the fact is that the Iranian government by its actions has declared war on us,” said Mr. Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic nominee for vice president.

“While I sincerely hope that diplomacy alone can convince the Iranian government to stop these attacks, our diplomatic efforts are only likely to succeed if backed by a credible threat of force,” he said. “At the very least, I hope that these latest revelations about Iran’s terrorism in Iraq will prompt some of my colleagues in Congress to reconsider their demand that U.S. forces withdraw from Iraq.”

Party school

Sen. Barack Obama‘s 2008 presidential campaign has set new fundraising records, but the Illinois Democrat got some free help from Georgia Tech administrators earlier this year.

“When Obama came to Atlanta in April, he held a campaign rally in Yellow Jacket Park — the heart of the Georgia Institute of Technology’s campus,” recent Tech grad Orit T. Sklar writes at FrontPageMagazine.com. “As expected, news of Obama’s upcoming visit was everywhere — television broadcasts, newspapers and blogs. What I didn’t expect was to learn of his visit from an e-mail sent by the Georgia Tech Dean of Students Office.

“In the e-mail message sent through the Buzzport announcement system, usually reserved for official Institute business, all 17,000 Georgia Tech students were informed about Obama’s visit and solicited to volunteer for his campaign. The message stated: ‘Senator Obama is also in need of a lot of volunteers to help him publicize while he is in Atlanta. If you are interested in volunteering, you can check the box that says volunteers on the RSVP page.’ ”

Miss Sklar is currently a co-plaintiff in a federal civil rights lawsuit against Georgia Tech, charging that the university used a speech code to censor campus conservative groups.

“Two parties dominate America’s current political system, but only one dominates at Georgia Tech,” she writes. “Since I entered college in 2003, Georgia Tech has hosted Wesley Clark, Dennis Kucinich, Al Gore, and most recently, Barack Obama. Guess how many Republicans have had the red carpet rolled out before them.”

Speech police

“In February 2006, Norm Feck learned that the city of Parker, Colo., was thinking about annexing his neighborhood, Parker North,” Bradley A. Smith writes in City Journal.

“Feck attended a meeting on the annexation, realized that it would mean more bureaucracy, and concluded that it wouldn’t be in Parker North residents’ interest. Together with five other Parker North locals, he wrote letters to the editor, handed out information sheets, formed an Internet discussion group, and printed up anti-annexation yard signs, which soon began sprouting throughout the neighborhood,” said Mr. Smith, the former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, the chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics, and a professor of law at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio.

“That’s when annexation supporters took action — not with their own public campaign, but with a legal complaint against Feck and his friends for violating Colorado’s campaign-finance laws. The suit also threatened anyone who had contacted Feck’s group about the annexation, or put up one of their yard signs, with ‘investigation, scrutinization, and sanctions for Campaign Finance violations.’ Apparently the anti-annexation activists hadn’t registered with the state, or filled out the required paperwork disclosing their expenditures on time. Steep fines, increasing on a daily basis, were possible. The case remains in litigation. …

“Should Americans care about what’s happening in Parker North? They certainly don’t seem to. A LexisNexis search finds just three stories, all in Colorado papers, that mention the dispute. That’s it: no commentary by columnists, no national network reports, not even coverage by a single major blogger on this application of campaign-finance law to the most basic community political activity.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes .com.

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