By Ralph Z. Hallow
The Washington Times
Virginia Republican Party Chairman Jeff Frederick says he knows his state’s historically conservative voters, but that John McCain’s campaign dismissed his input even as the Republican presidential candidate slid in polls and the state unexpectedly became a battleground.
“They act as if, ‘How could you tell us to change our plan?'” said Mr. Frederick, who had offered advice on how to minimize losses in the state’s liberal-leaning northern region.
Republican Party leaders from several states – including tightly contested, must-win battlegrounds – have begun privately voicing reservations about McCain strategies and the campaign’s failure to return phone calls or respond to suggestions and offers of volunteer support.
“They ignore you. They don’t keep their commitments. And word is that the party has a clock counting down the days till it can throw the McCain people out of state party’s headquarters,” said one state party leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The leaders also question Mr. McCain’s decision to embrace the “$700 billion Wall Street bailout,” which riled voters, and his reluctance to make issues out of his Democratic rival’s relationships with his inflammatory former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., and with Bill Ayers, a 1960s radical and a founder of the violent Weather Underground that was blamed for a series of domestic bombings during the Vietnam era.
Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer agrees that Mr. McCain has had problems within the party, but that Republicans desperately want to unite behind their presidential standard-bearer to stave off a Democrat-run White House and Congress.
“If McCain pulls it off, it will be a rejection of how people see Barack Obama governing the country – his liberal philosophy,” said Mr. Greer, who thinks Mr. McCain will emerge victorious in Florida despite his lagging poll numbers.
Mr. McCain’s campaign rejected the suggestion that it hadn’t tapped the party’s talent.