Second-Guessing on Campaign Staffs Nothing New in Presidential Campaigns

July 9, 2012

It is amusing to listen to the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Jack Welch, also echoed by the Wall Street Journal, telling Mitt Romney what is wrong with his campaign. They and other voices have been urging him to dump some of his current campaign staffers and to reshape his message to be more specific about what he would do as President.

The truth is that most campaigns go through staff tensions when the going gets tough, regardless of the talent level. There is the inevitable conflict between those who push for fresh faces and the candidate’s  loyalty to those who brought him to the dance.  Rarely do wholesale changes in  midstream turn the tide in a campaign.

Such  current noise reminds me once again of 1980, when I served as communications director for Texas Governor John Connally’s campaign for the Republican  nomination .  When we failed to race to the head of the pack, some of  Connally’s wealthy supporters had all sorts of advice of what was wrong.  Several of them offered the view that we needed to replace current  campaign staffers  with eager new ones who should work for free if they really were dedicated to Connally. them.  One of the most memorable critiques had to do with our campaign graphics  A  movie mogul from LA vowed that the color scheme on our materials was a major problem. He trashed our red and black bumper stickers and went to the trouble of dummying up some blue ones which he said would change our fortunes.

As we were to learn to all too well, our problem was not the color of our bumpers stickers. It was the legions of Republicans across the nation who were dedicated to Ronald Reagan and impassioned to achieve his election.

–Julian Read

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