McCain Melding His Campaign With RNC

Posted March 5, 2008 at 6:52pm

Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) on Wednesday effectively took control of the Republican National Committee, immediately moving to integrate the fundraising and get-out-the-vote juggernaut with his still underfunded presidential campaign operation.

With McCain now the presumptive GOP White House nominee, the RNC and its $25 million in cash on hand becomes an extension of the Arizona Senator’s campaign, particularly when it comes to messaging, opposition research and get-out-the-vote activities.

Republican strategists familiar with how President Bush melded his campaign with the RNC when he first won the GOP White House nomination in 2000 say McCain could install some of his own people at the committee. But RNC Communications Director Danny Diaz previously has worked for McCain and his top adviser, Steve Schmidt, and that could mean there is less need for an infusion of staff loyal to the Senator at the RNC.

“We are committed to working very closely together,” McCain said during a joint news conference Wednesday with RNC Chairman Mike Duncan at the committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters. “Our people, on a daily basis, will be integrated with the RNC. We have a lot of work to do.”

McCain secured the GOP White House nomination with a four-state sweep in Tuesday’s presidential primaries.

He showed up at the RNC’s office the next day to begin the process of taking the reins as national leader of the Republican Party and to afford his presidential campaign access to the committee’s bank account and extensive opposition research and voter-contact capabilities.

According to the Federal Election Commission, the RNC raised $11.8 million in January and banked $22 million while carrying no debt. But Duncan said during Wednesday’s news conference that the committee’s FEC report for February, due out March 20, will show the RNC with $25 million in cash on hand.

When compared with the figures McCain’s campaign reported to the FEC last month, it becomes apparent why tethering his presidential operation to the RNC — while standard for all GOP White House nominees — is so important for the candidate.

As of Jan. 31, McCain’s presidential campaign reported $5.2 million on hand and $5.5 million in debt. McCain raised just $12.8 million in January, much less than either of the top Democratic presidential contenders.

McCain said he views his campaign’s relationship with the RNC as a partnership with a common goal.

“We are working together as a team,” he said. “We just intend to integrate our efforts more closely, and I’m confident we can do that.”

The RNC is one of only two GOP national party committees that have continued to financially outperform their Democratic counterparts in the wake of the Democrats’ 2006 takeover of Congress. The Republican Governors Association is the other.

The Democratic National Committee had raised $5.8 million in January to close the period with $3 million on hand and $250,000 in debt.