McCain 2008=Reagan 1980?

A McCain supporter, trying to put the best possible face on the cutbacks on paid campaign staff, shared the following with me, citing "some good parallels":



During 1980 Campaign, Reagan
“Had To Overcome Doubts About His Age And Ability, An Ill-Advised Iowa Strategy,
A Major Staff Shake-Up In The Middle Of The Campaign And Serious Money
“It is true that Reagan entered the campaign with enormous
assets. … But Reagan had to overcome doubts about his age and ability, an
ill-advised Iowa strategy, a major staff shake-up in the middle of the campaign
and serious money problems.” (Lou Cannon, “Reagan:
Iowa Loss Allowed Him To Campaign His Way,” The Washington Post,

“The Shake-Up Of His Campaign
Staff” Seen As Contributing Factor To Reagan’s Primary Victory.
shake-up of his campaign staff and his more personal style of campaigning have
contributed to Reagan’s commanding lead for the Republican nomination. To
William J. Casey, Ronald Reagan’s reconstructed campaign proves that even in
election politics, one can ‘make a virtue out of necessity.’ … Casey … was
referring to the recent radical changes in the former California governor’s
campaign strategy and staff operations.” (Dom
Bonafede, “The ‘Liberation’ Of Ronald Reagan – A New Staff And A New Strategy,”
National Journal, 3/22/80)

Reagan Struggled With Early

In July 1979, Fundraising
Reports Placed Reagan Fourth Among Republican Presidential Candidates, While
First In Spending.
“Ronald Reagan, regarded as a leading candidate for the
1980 Republican presidential nomination, is trailing other GOP candidates in
financial contributions this year, according to federal reports. The Federal
Election Commission said Wednesday that Reagan’s campaign committee has reported
$1.4 million in contributions so far this year. That compares with these other
GOP presidential contenders and the funds they have reported raising: Rep.
Philip M. Crane of Illinois, $2.5 million. Former Texas Gov. John Connally, $2.2
million. Former CIA Director George Bush, $1.5 million. … And although Reagan
wasn’t the leading fund-raiser, he was the biggest spender, using nearly $1.3
million of the $1.4 million he raised.” (“Washington Dateline,” The Associated Press,

· “While It
Has A $121,000 Cash Surplus, According To The Latest Campaign Finance Reports,
The Reagan Campaign Committee Has $141,741 In Debts And Obligations, Much Of It
Owed To A West Coast Direct Mail Firm.”
Barbash, “Reagan Raises $1.4 Million In Campaign Funds,” The Washington
, 7/26/79)

In August 1979, “[L]yn
Nofziger, A Longtime Reagan Aide, Was Removed As Finance Director.”
(Bill Peterson, “Specter of Kennedy Casts Shadow On GOP
Politics,” The Washington Post, 9/23/79)

By September Of 1979, Reagan’s
Campaign Was $500,000 In Debt.
“The only serious weakness in the Reagan
effort is fund raising. In late August, the campaign found itself almost
$500,000 in debt …” (Bill Peterson, “Specter of
Kennedy Casts Shadow On GOP Politics,” The Washington Post,

In January 1980, Reagan’s
Campaign Abandoned Plans To Run The Campaign Without Federal Matching Funds And
The Corresponding Spending Limits, After Coming To The “[R]ealization That Its
Fundraisers Could Not Gather Enough Contributions To Run The Campaign Without
Federal Money …”
“Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign yesterday accepted a
federal check for $100,000, ending weeks of internal debate over whether Reagan
should accept federal matching funds and the spending limits that go with them.
It was the Reagan campaign’s first such check. Its second will be far larger. …
The decision reflects the Reagan campaign’s realization that its fundraisers
could not gather enough contributions to run the campaign without federal money,
campaign treasurer Bay Buchanan said. ‘Our feeling was, don’t take matching
funds until you have to, she said.” (“GOP Chairman
Says It’s Time For Debate on U.S. Hostages,” The Washington Post,

As Voting Period
Approached, Reagan Had Staff Shakeup

In Late 1979, Then-Campaign
Director John Sears “Eased Out” Group Of Longtime Reagan Advisers, Including Lyn
Nofziger And Mike Deaver.
“Recently, three of Reagan’s oldest and most
conservative advisers – deputy campaign chairmen Lyn Nofziger and Mike Deaver,
and issues man Marty Anderson – have been eased out of his campaign by John
Sears, the pragmatic chairman. Some Reagan loyalists worry that the changes
portend a more moderate campaign tack, thus alienating hardline conservatives.”
(“The Bumpy Campaign Trail,” Newsweek,

Deaver’s Dismissal Left Sears
In “Undisputed Control Of The Campaign.”
“Three topsiders in Ronald Reagan’s
Presidential campaign have been pushed overboard in the last three months … Such
fears were given new credence last week when Michael Deaver, a friend and
conservative adviser to Reagan for fourteen years, was forced out of the
campaign because he had been operating outside the chain of command of manager
John Sears, who now stands in undisputed control of the campaign.” (Dennis Williams, “Reagan’s Campaign Shake-Up,”
Newsweek, 12/10/79)

After Losing Iowa Caucuses,
Reagan Fired Campaign Manager And Entire Top Layer Of Political

1980: After Losing Iowa
Caucuses, Then-Gov. Ronald Reagan Vowed – According To A Campaign Aide –
“There’s Going To Be Some Changes.”
“As Ronald Reagan sees it, the seeds of
his victory in the Republican presidential contest were sown in the dark hours
of defeat after the Iowa precinct caucuses last Jan. 21. … Chief of staff Edwin
Meese recalls Reagan saying grimly to him the same night, ‘There’s going to be
some changes.’” (Lou Cannon, “Reagan: Iowa Loss
Allowed Him To Campaign His Way,” The Washington Post, 6/1/80)

On Day Of New Hampshire
Primary, Reagan Dismissed Campaign Manager, Political Director And Press
“Feb. 26, New Hampshire – Reagan defeats Bush nearly 2 to 1 and
regains his status as front-runner. The afternoon of his victory he fires Sears,
political director Charles Black and press secretary Jim Lake in a shakeup that
in effect restored Reagan as head of his own campaign. Former Securities and
Exchange Commission chairman William J. Casey is brought in as campaign director
and Meese, whose Sears’ attempt to fire triggered the timing of his own
dismissal, becomes chief of staff.” (Lou Cannon,
“Reagan: Iowa Loss Allowed Him To Campaign His Way,” The Washington Post,

Dismissal Of Sears Triggered
“Massive Housecleaning Of The Reagan Operation.
“Sears, the campaign’s
executive vice chairman and chief strategist until he was fired on Feb. 26,
antagonized many of Reagan’s conservative backers and California friends by
attempting to package the candidate in too moderate a guise and devising his
unsuccessful low profile Iowa campaign. … On the day of the primary, Sears was
summarily fired, along with two of his closest associates … Several other
campaign aides aligned with Sears also left, either voluntarily or by request,
in what amounted to a massive housecleaning of the Reagan operation.” (Dom Bonafede, “The ‘Liberation’ Of Ronald Reagan – A New
Staff And A New Strategy,” National Journal, 3/22/80)

· Dismissed
Reagan Staffer: “We Had No Idea … That This Was Going To Happen.”
“A member
of Reagan’s Washington office, who was among those let go, said the dismissals
came as a surprise. ‘We knew there was contention, but we had no idea how bad it
was or that this was going to happen.’” (Dom
Bonafede, “The ‘Liberation’ Of Ronald Reagan – A New Staff And A New Strategy,”
National Journal, 3/22/80)

· Then-Rep.
And Reagan Supporter Jack Kemp (R-NY):
“It was a blessing in disguise; it
really shook up the candidate and the troops … Maybe it will be remembered as a
loss which led to ultimate victory.” (Dom Bonafede,
“The ‘Liberation’ Of Ronald Reagan – A New Staff And A New Strategy,”
National Journal, 3/22/80)

2 thoughts on “McCain 2008=Reagan 1980?

  1. Doug Ross

    Looks like someone is trying to get a paycheck before the well runs dry.
    At least the McCain campaign has free access to the Brad Warthen blog in lieu of spending on actual advertising.


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