The article is up on the NYT website. Highlights and analysis shortly…
– Steve Schmidt was the one who pushed McCain to go “all in” on the bailout and suspend his campaign to go to Washington to get in on the negotiations and then take the credit when a solution was reached.
– The Mark Salter/Rick Davis relationship was on the rocks at one point, which is what allowed Schmidt to take a bigger role in the campaign.
– The idea of McCain doing a campaign tour of the towns where he grew up came from Karl Rove.
– The idea for McCain’s much-panned green backdrop came from Schmidt, which Draper calls “a poorly executed version of an idea Schmidt borrowed from the eco-friendly 2006 Schwarzenegger campaign.”
– The senior strategists held a conference call on June 24 – less than five months away from the election – because (citing an unidentified participant) “we still couldn’t answer the question, ‘Why elect John McCain?'”
– Schmidt during a campaign strategy meeting on July 27 after Barack Obama’s tour of the Middle East and Europe:“Would anyone here disagree with the premise that we are not winning this campaign?”
“Would anyone disagree with the premise that Mr. Obama has scored the most successful week in this entire campaign? I mean, they treated him like he was a head of state! So tell me, gentlemen: how do we turn this negative into a positive?”
– Schmidt came up with the Obama-as-celebrity attack during that same meeting.
– Names on McCain’s VP shortlist on August 24: Tim Pawlenty, Tom Ridge, Joe Lieberman, Mitt Romney, Michael Bloomberg, and Charlie Crist.
– Schmidt was the one who first publicly floated the idea of Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate at the same meeting, although he had been discussing the idea privately with Rick Davis beforehand.
– Lindsey Graham was lobbying for a McCain-Lieberman ticket.
– McCain floated the idea of Romney as his running mate, noting his help in fundraising and that he would put Michigan in play.
– Palin did not come up during internal discussions with aides, although Pawlenty and Bloomberg did.
– Draper’s account of the clandestine operation by which McCain aides went to Alaska and flew Palin and her family to Arizona and later to Ohio is excellent.
– Salter was a big fan of Pawlenty as VP, Romney… not so much. A senior aide says he was likely surprised by the Palin choice.
– Palin speechwriter Matthew Scully got a standing ovation at a bar after Palin’s acceptance speech at the Republican convention.
– Schmidt after Palin’s speech: “Arguably, at this stage? She’s a bigger celebrity than Obama.”
– Palin got lessons from voice coach Priscilla Shanks
– A very telling exchange between reporter and source after McCain’s acceptance speech.
Draper: “Leaving aside her actual experience, do you know how informed Governor Palin is about the issues of the day?”
Unidentified senior McCain adviser: “No, I don’t know.”
– Joe Biden and McCain came to an oral agreement in 2005 to do town halls together if they both won their parties’ nominations. McCain made the same offer to Obama, who was not interested.
– McCain has had a “disdain and dislike” of Obama going back to the ethics reform bill discussed in the Senate.
– Unidentified McCain adviser before the debates: “If he keeps the debates on substance, he’s very good. If it moves to the personal, then I think it’s a disaster.”
– Bad debate advice from Mark Salter, who suggested that McCain maintain “a very generous patience with Obama — in terms of, ‘I’m sure if he understood…’”
– Schmidt’s amusing response to a question about post-debate spinning from a foreign reporter: “Well, look. One of the things I always wonder is why we come in here at the end. . . . It doesn’t really matter, to be totally truthful with you. It’s just part of the ritual. Like eating turkey on Thanksgiving.”
– By Draper’s count, the McCain campaign has had 6 different narratives, and the current one is essentially a hybrid approach incorporating elements from the previous five.