Iowa State University
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News Service

News Service:

Annette Hacker, director,
(515) 294-3720

Office: (515) 294-4777

07-11-07

Hardball

Sen. John McCain (center) during MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" from Iowa State's Stephens Auditorium on Oct. 18. Photo by Bob Elbert

Contacts:

Mike Ferlazzo, News Service, (515) 294-8986, ferlazzo@iastate.edu

NEWS TIP: Iowa State experts can discuss McCain's setbacks in GOP presidential race

AMES, Iowa -- Just days after the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain reported that it had just $2 million left in funding and announced significant staff layoffs, two of his top aides -- campaign manager Terry Nelson, and longtime friend and chief strategist John Weaver -- announced their resignations Tuesday.

It was the latest setback for McCain, who once was viewed as a top contender for the 2008 GOP nomination but has been consistently trailing in the polls.

Could the end of the campaign road be near for McCain? Iowa State University political experts are available to discuss his latest setback and possible demise.

One of his early campaign stops was an appearance on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" aired live from Stephens Auditorium at Iowa State -- part of the program's nationwide College Hardball Tour. McCain has already announced plans to skip the GOP's Iowa Straw Poll on Sunday, Aug. 11, in ISU's Hilton Coliseum.

Dianne Bystrom

Director, ISU's Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics

(515) 294-4185, (515) 451-5084 (c), dbystrom@iastate.edu (available until July 19)

Bystrom is a co-author, co-editor and contributor to 11 books on politics, including "Gender and Elections" (2006), "Communicating Politics" (2005), "The Millennium Election" (2003), "Anticipating Madam President" (2003) and "Women Transforming Congress" (2002). She is presently working on a book chapter about Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

In spite of McCain's campaign woes, she's not predicting the end just yet.

"History is replete with comebacks by presidential candidates, and it's just July 2007," she said.

"McCain has never been a great fund-raiser," she continued. "First of all, he's gotten his political niche as a maverick. And really what's happened in this campaign is that rather than being the maverick, like he was in 2000, he was presumed to be the front-runner -- and I don't think that's a role that he's very comfortable with. It changes his image.

"In some ways, this lack of money forced a major shake-up," Bystrom said. "And really what could come out of it is again the re-establishment of his position as a party maverick.

"Of course, from what I understand, he fired all of his staff in Iowa and he's sending his national field director to Iowa. But the Iowa caucuses are all about organization, so firing staff in Iowa and sending out a field director is a little bit different than taking staff out of New Hampshire and South Carolina.

"But I'm not counting him out yet. I remember we once called Bill Clinton 'The Comeback Kid,' or he called himself that. You can come back, but his biggest issue right now is going to be money, because he's going to need money to come back."

Steffen Schmidt

University Professor of political science

(515) 294-3825, sws@iastate.edu

The host of "Dr. Politics," a weekly state-wide political call-in show on National Public Radio affiliate WOI-AM, Schmidt is author of the country's most widely adopted introductory college textbook, "American Government and Politics Today."

He said that McCain has been "overtaken by history."

"What I mean is that he was the maverick, independent thinking, straight-shooting war hero," Schmidt said. "He had principles and stuck with them and people admired him for saying what he thought was right and they liked it.

"The problem is that he is still doing the same thing, only now he is sticking with his guns on things that the public generally does not approve of or care about," he continued.

"McCain-Feingold, the campaign finance bill, does not get him an ounce of credit. First, it does not work. Second, the Supreme Court rules parts of it are unconstitutional. The Republicans also do not like this bill. So his score on that one is pretty much zero. Then he jumped on board the derailed Immigration Reform Bill.

"Some people say there is too much money in politics, but I say that his overspending on campaign expenses and staff shows he is not a very smart money manager," Schmidt said. "I mean, would he spend tax money that way?

"So, poor McCain lost his shine. He's lost GOP support. He's lost the stream of funding. Very few donors -- large or small -- want to put their dollar on a guy who has downsized his campaign drastically and who appears to be headed for an early pull-out."

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Bystrom

Dianne Bystrom

Schmidt

Steffen Schmidt

Quick look

Could the end of the campaign road be near for GOP candidate John McCain? Iowa State University political experts are available to discuss the latest setback and possible demise of a candidate who had one of his early campaign stops on MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" aired live from Stephens Auditorium at Iowa State.

Quote

"So, poor McCain lost his shine. He's lost GOP support. He's lost the stream of funding. Very few donors -- large or small -- want to put their dollar on a guy who has downsized his campaign drastically and who appears to be headed for an early pull-out."

Steffen Schmidt