Thursday, July 26, 2007

Daily Headliners--Thompson's double campaign woes, Senate Dems subpoena Rove, Dow drops 300 points, McCain's ad staff quits,

There are some pretty interesting news stories coming in for today's Daily Headliners.

Fred Thompson's campaign raises $3 million: I found this MSNBC News story through Daily Kos, and it is just amazing. From MSNBC News;

Sources close to the presumptive campaign tell NBC News that Fred Thompson's fundraising is down "markedly." One claimed it has "slowed down big-time." The pace is described as a consequence of the delayed announcement to enter the race."The Friends of Fred, Inc." will report to the IRS its revenue by July 31st. Sources reveal to NBC News that number will be in the range of about $3 million. Five million dollars had been the talked-about June goal. Sources describe an early burst of donations in June and say the summer fundraising has fallen off. While additional fundraisers are planned, sources say the scheduling of fundraisers was "frozen" for a time while the team was going through some internal strains.

The Thompson campaign was hoping to raise $5 million, but have only raised about $3 million? This is not good, especially with the staff turnovers that have taken place over the past three days and the affects of this staff shake-up has had in the scheduling of fundraisers. At this point, the campaign should be running smoothly, and Fred Thompson should be spending his time giving speeches and raising money. Instead of being the GOP's "White Knight" to save the Republican Party from the disaster of this Bush administration and to retain the Oval Office for The Party, Fred Thompson's non-entry into this presidential campaign is morphing into a Keystone Cops comedy. In addition, $3 million is not going to get the Thompson campaign very far in the Republican race, considering that Mitt Romney has raised $14 million and Rudy Giuliani has raised around $17 million. Of course, the Democrats have raised ten times as much as the Thompson campaign, with Barack Obama brining in $32 million and Hillary Clinton raising $27 million. Things are certainly not looking too well for the Thompson campaign here.

The Jeri factor: This is also from the same MSNBC News story;

Some sources describe the role of the presumed candidate's wife, Jeri, as vast and powerful. Sources say "she's integrally involved in every decision" and that Fred Thompson has "set it up so everything goes through her." Critically, that was cast as "running it like a congressional campaign" and from the "kitchen table."

Sources also describe Jeri favorably as smart, and that her level of involvement could be an asset. However, they also claim she is "reluctant" to shift to the eventual front-stage role she would have to assume as the candidate's spouse with her own events and public responsibilities. An interpretation of Jeri's role was described as a "scattershot management style" that "lacks prioritization."

At present, those close to the planning say Jeri is involved in hiring, salaries, schedule, office assignments at the two headquarters, and small details like the color of bumper stickers. Some sources defend her, adding that "it's easy to say she's controlling things." Sources describe that she, like many in Washington, knows many people in politics. They acknowledge Jeri meets with and interviews senior staff candidates and is clearly a key adviser.

This story sheds two important details into the resignations taking place within the Thompson campaign. First is that Jeri Thompson was "integrally involved in every decision" regarding Fred Thompson's campaign. She pretty much controlled everything in the campaign--even down to the color of the bumper stickers. What we may have here is a case of micromanagement on Jeri Thompson's part, where she wanted to maintain the absolute power of running that early stage of the campaign, rather than stepping back and allowing the professional campaign managers to take control. It is interesting to note that Jeri Thompson was "reluctant" to shift from a back-stage role of initially organizing the campaign, to a front-stage role of actively campaigning, on behalf of her husband, in her own public events. What is even more interesting is that Fred Thompson allowed his wife to continue on with her control of the backstage work, rather than trying to convince Jeri Thompson that she needed to change her role to that of active campaigning. This is certainly not good for the Thompson campaign. Because now it shows that there is a fight within the Thompson campaign between the professional campaign staff, and Jeri Thompson. And at this point, Jeri Thompson is still in absolute control of the campaign, micromanaging it from the backstage. Fred Thompson is going to have a hard time recruiting top GOP campaign officials, who realize that their decisions will be reviewed by Jeri Thompson. In addition, the Thompson campaign is in competition with the other GOP presidential candidates' campaign staffs for recruiting these officials--campaign staffs which don't have to deal with Jeri Thompson. One final little note. The fight between the Thompson campaign staff and Jeri Thompson is not going to sit well with the GOP doner base on fundraising. If Fred Thompson can not either resolve the bickering taking place within the campaign, or even to muzzle his wife, then the GOP doner base may end up deciding that Thompson is not the GOP's savior for 2008, and may turn back to either Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani to contribute money to their campaigns. The Thompson campaign may end up seeing their own doner base drying up even before Fred Thompson announces his candidacy. The Thompson campaign may end up being DOA.

Senate Democrats call for perjury probe of Gonzales, issue subpoenas for Rove: The Washington Post is reporting that Senate Democrats are calling for the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate charges that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied to Congress in his testimony regarding the illegal domestic spying program. At the same time, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has issued subpoenas to White House adviser Karl Rove, and the White House deputy political director J. Scott Jennings, to testify on August 2 in the committee's investigation into the U.S. attorney firings and the politicization of the Justice Department. I'll be honest here in saying that I don't even know if the Bush administration or the Justice Department will allow the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate Gonzales. I'm thinking that there is going to be some type of excuse coming from the Justice Department saying they can not appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Gonzales. I really don't have any evidence to support this--I guess my BS detector is picking up something smelly here.

But I can say that the White House will use the same executive privilege argument for Karl Rove and J. Scott Jennings as they did for Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten with their subpoenas from the House Judiciary Committee. So you can expect to see an empty chair in the Senate Judiciary Committee, with Karl Rove's name tag by it, on August 2nd. And I'm betting that the week after, we'll see the Senate Judiciary Committee vote, along party lines, to issue contempt citations against Karl Rove. With regards to Jennings testifying, it is a 50-50 chance here. Jennings may testify before the committee, but his testimony will be filled with assertions of executive privilege claims, thus revealing nothing to the committee. More to come here.

Wall Street tumbles as housing fears weigh: It appears that the stock market woes are still not over. According to MSNBC News:

NEW YORK - Stock prices plunged Thursday, sending the Dow Jones industrial average down more than 300 points as the downturn in the nation’s housing market showed signs of worsening, sparking concerns about a broader economic slowdown.


Thursday’s sell-off was the worst since markets plunged worldwide in February, although Wall Street had recovered a large portion of its losses by the close. At one point during Thursday’s session the Dow was down as much as 449 points. Traders attributed the market’s improvement to comments from Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who in an interview on Bloomberg TV downplayed the subprime mortgage market’s impact on the economy.

Prices on Treasury securities such as bonds rose as investors moved money away from stocks and into the relative security of fixed-income investments. That suggests investors have decided that problems affecting “subprime” loans made to people with poor credit histories will spread, leading to a more difficult environment for corporate borrowing that ultimately could hamper economic growth, said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer of Johnson Illington Advisors.


The anxiety on Wall Street was amplified Thursday when the Commerce Department reported that sales of new homes fell 6.6 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 834,000 units, a much bigger decline than had been expected and the largest percentage drop since sales fell by 12.7 percent in January.

Disappointing results from home builders Pulte Homes and D.R. Horton — squeezed by a sluggish environment from home sales and continued defaults in subprime loans — also weighed heavily on the market.

Wall Street has been ignoring the problems with the housing market, believing it was just a short-term problem which will correct itself--look at how Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson dismissed the problem of subprime mortgage's impact on the economy on Bloomberg TV? And this is while the Commerce Department is reporting that sales of new homes has dropped 6.6 percent. The housing market is going to be a serious drag on the U.S. economy. And I think that Wall Street investors are slowing waking up to that problem.

McCain's ad consultants quit campaign: It appears that John McCain just can't seem to find any help for his campaign these days--everybody is quitting! According to CNN News:

CONCORD, New Hampshire (AP) -- Sen. John McCain's advertising consultants have resigned from his presidential campaign, the latest in a rash of staff shake-ups in recent weeks.

McCain communications director Jill Hazelbaker on Wednesday described the departure of Russ Schriefer and Stuart Stevens as amicable and said the Arizona Republican "appreciates their service" but accepted their resignations when they were offered Monday night.

Schriefer and Stevens were part of George W. Bush's campaign team in 2000 and 2004 and were part of Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign. The Wall Street Journal first reported the departures Wednesday night.

While the two had an agreement to work for the McCain campaign, FEC records indicate that they had not been paid and were not owed any money.

Aides downplayed their departure as a sign of a troubled campaign that has struggled financially and has been hit hard by the senator's support for the unpopular war in Iraq and failed attempts at immigration reform.

McCain is trying to revitalize his staff and his candidacy after a disastrous six months of weak fundraising and dropping poll numbers.

I guess the McCain revitalization program for his campaign is not working. The McCain campaign has already lost several key staff members this month. On July 11, McCain's campaign manager Terry Nelson and chief strategist John Weaver announced their resignations. A day earlier, the McCain campaign accepted the resignations of Deputy Campaign Manager Reed Galen and Political Director Rob Jesmer. The Straight Talk Express can't spin this serious shake-up as "Our campaign has had ups and downs, but at the end of the day, we'll be just fine." But that is just what Senator John McCain was telling voters in New Hampshire on Wednesday.

At this point, I'll be surprised if the McCain Straight Talk Express campaign can even survive through New Hampshire.

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