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The secret hidden within John McCain's campaign schedule

You can tell a lot about any political campaign by how it invests its most precious resource: the 1,440 minutes in each candidate's day.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this item had an hour-by-hour schedule that was provided to the media for planning purposes and not intended for publication. But even if you examine the broadThe presumptive Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain of Arizona current schedule for John McCain's campaign, you'll still notice something very revealing:

Yesterday morning the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party flew from Omaha to Kansas City, Mo., for a town hall meeting at Union Station in late morning, and a series of local media interviews, of course, and he left Kansas City right after lunch for -- where else? -- Muskegon, Mich.

No, really. Muskegon, Mich.

At dinnertime he arrived near there in Ferrysburg, Mich., for a 105-minute fundraiser before flying to Detroit to sleep.

Today, he'll visit a General Motors technical center there for a tour and another town hall meeting with employees to be captured for eternity on camera, more local media interviews, of course, and a lunchtime fundraiser before flying out to New York to do another media interview.

And then comes the day's publicity moment, the Big Event, the taping of a priceless national TV interview for "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," the next Jay Leno, if there can be such a thing. An opportunity to be good-natured for a lot of younger voters.

Tomorrow, in New York City, McCain will do more media interviews before ...

... attending the real reason for getting up on a summer Saturday, two more fundraisers on Long Island, N.Y.

He'll sleep then in yet another hotel room and move on to somewhere else for, you'll never guess, more local media interviews with the same familiar sets of questions (his VP pick, Iraq, the economy), which he'll professionally act like he never heard before and answer with practiced straight-talk sincerity.

It's a mind-deadening grind for all involved, though all that the mildly attentive July world will see and possibly process for maybe voting on Nov. 4 are snippets of his answers on TV somewhere while it munches chips or veggies.

So what to make of McCain's oh-so-familiar routine?

Yes, good point, he does seem to be hopscotching all over. His campaign days sure don't start at dawn with morning shows. And there are the ubiquitous media interviews, as always.

They're free, after all. And though he can speak to 200 potential voters at a town hall, he can more efficiently reach hundreds of thousands through film of that session and media interviews afterward with slightly-starry-eyed local reporters, some of whom will secretively ask for autographs despite their outward objectivity.

Give you a hint. Follow the money.

Just 3 1/2 months out from the presidential election, McCain's national campaign schedule is being driven by the quest for money, not by the hunt for votes in 50 individual state elections. All right, every campaign says it's gonna compete everywhere. But they don't.

He's always looking for votes wherever he goes. But wherever he goes is determined not by potential votes but by where his finance folks have found enough donate-able money to set up fundraisers.

For McCain for now his itinerary is built on the quest for dollar$, not votes. That helps explain the widespread sense of unease among many Republicans nationally who do not deny he's working very hard.

But they fear he wasted his three-month general election head start not defining himself and not driving home the all-important central message of why he wants to be president.

Do you know what McCain's central message is? Do you know what his opponent's central theme is? See the difference?

Some still don't detect a national McCain strategy laid out with consistent unfolding messages drawing the portrait in voters' minds of the next commander in chief, day by day and event by event. One reason behind the recent campaign management shThe Republican presidential nominee to be Senator John McCain of Arizona in his favorite forum, a townhall meetingake-up.

The Arizonan, who's never much liked fundraising (which helps explain McCain-Feingold) and never built the kind of national donor network of Mitt Romney, George W. Bush or Hillary Clinton, sure didn't invest 175 minutes of precious candidate time going to Muskegon, driving and standing around talking and shaking hands and being photographed there because of a mother lode of votes to be had in nearby Ferrysburg.

Unlike last year, McCain is working hard to raise money now, and his schedulers fill in the blanks with interviews and other events to attract free media coverage wherever they happen to be.

The last two months he's raised $22 million each, about $734,000 a day. That's good for McCain, especially when the Republican National Committee is raising even more funds separately to benefit his campaign.

McCain's national campaign staff is slightly less than half the size of the 800-plus-person behemoth behind Barack Obama who, some estimate, is burning through more than $40 million a month. That takes some of the shine off the $52 million he reported raising in June.

And remember, Obama's money, while seemingly plentiful every month, must last through to election day. McCain's need only endure until the Republican convention Sept. 1-4, when his $82 million in federal funding gets delivered.

Still, the Republican candidate, of all people, devoting so much time to scrounging money instead of votes this close to Nov. 4, is an ominous sign in the eyes of many professional strategists.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photos: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (52)

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It's an interesting piece but it would have helped the authors claim had he posted Obama's schedule for the same period as a comparison.

And I'm a whole hearted Obama supporter.

I'm curious how McCain's schedule compares against Obama. Can you publish Obama's as well so we can see how much time he is devoting to fundraising. Only then can we make an accurate conclusion that McCain is being driven by fundraising.

Why do you guys HATE America? Why always looking for a reason to heap hate on the Real American candidate? You guys islamofascists or something?

McCain is not a lot smarter than the people voting for him. I think that is the attraction.

When did McCain find the time to send republicans free bumper stickers asking for donations? I'm not removing my Ron Paul bumper stickers. I paid $5.00 each for those beauties. I would have paid more. Well, I'll open a bottle of Jones campaign soda with Ron Paul's picture and toast to having something McCain won't ever get: MY VOTE or money. Have a good day!

Andrew -

You must be another media foot soldier for Obama camp. Tisk tisk. Then again there are no REAL reporters, instead just minions who do as they are told.

"Do you know why? Do you know why his opponent is running? See the difference?"

No. Every person ever running for President does it because they perceive it as the most powerful position in the world. They run because they want the power. They want to control the agenda, the ideas, and the direction we head as a nation. It's true of John McCain and it's true of Barack Obama. To suggest differently is a bit inane.

This is so stupid, sure he needs the money, he has to have the money to counter Obama who has spent over 254 million just to get the nomination. He spends his days doing identically the same thing chasing the buck. So quit making it seem so one sided. 22 million vs 52 million it does not take a brain surgeon to understand who is trying to buy the election.

You're right. I don't really know why John McCain is running for president. But, since you asked, I don't really know why Barack Obama is running either. That's what campaigns are supposed to be about but they have become something else. Campaigns are now about pretending the reasons for the candidate's desire for the oval office is the same as what the public wants. In the primaries, the candidate says what his campaign strategists tell him will get the most votes from the largest and most active factions of his party. Once he gets past that, he shifts to saying what his advisers tell him is what most of the general public wants to hear without, hopefully, alienating his base. So, when we distill it all down, we can pretty figure the candidate's reason for running for president is what? Who knows? No one provides a real vision for America, they're afraid to, afraid it will cost votes to be honest and straightforward. What a mess.

Barack Obama who, some estimate, is burning through more than $40 million per month. That takes some of the shine off the $52 million he reported raising in June.

That depends on what he's spending it on. If he's spending huge amounts of money just to raise slightly huger amounts of money, that's a bad sign. If he's spending it to build infrastructure and implement the electoral game plan, isn't that the point of raising it in the first place?

I am most disappointed in your lack of balanced reporting and an obvious 'slant' towards the B. Hussein Obama campaign...see...the other side can slant things as well if we choose although at least that is fact - isn't it?

There is no 'secret' agenda in McCain's schedule other than he is pounding the pavement to get votes and money, both of which are a necessity to win an election as anyone knows...what is it you are attempting to imply?

As far as the issues are concerned...spin all you like...the truth is Obama is clearly running a machine based on little or no basis/foundation. What ARE his positions on anything other than to express a desire for 'change', or to 'motivate'. I frankly am frightened of just what those 'changes' may be for the majority of Americans and I know I am not alone. McCain, while not perfect, as no one is, is expressing concerns for issues most Americans are concerned about. He is a known vs. the extreme unknown.

A few months ago I thought the Dems had a sure win this November. Not so sure anymore and your article articulates this I believe, quite nicely. I think you all are running scared that we may just pull it off! I sure hope so for the true benefit of all...even my friends on the other side. We shall see.

Wouldn't you think it might speak volumes if the candidates toured the country in a "fuel-freindly" manner. Instead of hop-scotching and backtracking all over, make a sweep from east to west or north to south.

I see McCain has his "Straight Talk Express" bus - but that appears to be more for show; I'm pretty sure he flies between venues and lets the bus catch up later.

I beg to differ, it'd Obama that I don't know and understand. Or maybe I do know him, but his ideals and platform scare me. I believe he would further derail our economy and put our nation at risk. As a nation, how could we put our faith and trust in a less than one term Senator? Lack of experience is very unnerving.

campaign money is a waste. why not spend that money feeding the homeless instead.

Campaigns mirror individuals. John McCain is fiscally conservative, and in these times, we desperately need that. It comes with experience and discipline.

Ooooo, real big secret there. That's great journalistic work there, Sparky.

"McCain's national campaign staff is slightly less than half the size of the 800+-person behemoth behind Barack Obama who, some estimate, is burning through more than $40 million per month. That takes some of the shine off the $52 million he reported raising in June.

And remember, Obama's money, while seemingly plentiful every month, must last through to election day. McCain's need only endure until the Republican convention Sept. 1-4, when his $82 million in federal funding gets delivered."

Was the article not partisan enough for you up until this point?

a) Of the $52 million Obama raised in June, $50 million is earmarked for the primary season, meaning he MUST spend it before the convention. So, actually, despite the very clear words you type, that money does NOT need to last until election day. The money he's going to raise between now and then will be what's spent until election day.

b) What kind of spin take a month where the budget surplus was $12 million (this is raised minus spent). $12 million extra in June. This is 1/7 of McCain's general election money. How is this taking the shine (I'd have said luster, but you may not understand why) off?

c) It's a shame that someone given the voice to write for a newspaper in this day and age can't just stick to *gasp* reporting news.

Gee, I wonder why, in a story about fundraising your article fails to mention that both cadidates pledged to accept federal funds, but only one of them kept that promise. Hmmmm, which one broke their promise? I can't tell from the story about campaign finance and fundraising here in the pages of the LA Times. Oh! Now I remember! The Times is nothing more than one of the media arms of the Obama campaign! Wonder why your circulation is dead and you have to lay off your so called "journalists"? Ha!

John McCain appears to be out of sync with the majority of Americans. His healthcare plan will do nothing to make healthcare available to 50 million Americans without healthcare coverage. His votes against veterans benefits is shameful particularly since he has had government funded medical coverage all of his life. The number of lobbyists on his campaign staff is troubling.

Maybe someone should tell The Great Maverick that when he tells the base of his party tha he neither wants nor needs their votes, they aren't likely to send him money.
Or maybe he should go dun his largest group of supporters- the New York Times editorial desk (though they won't give him any: he's running against a Democrat, now).
Or maybe he should ask all the poor "Children of God" who entered this country illegally, whom he wants to make citizens even if he has to destroy the United States to do so, to donate to him.
Or maybe he should ask George Soros for more money.

Well, Mccain's strategy dont make any sense to start wit, so nobody is really fond of going to a Mccain conference, so only thing he can do to get out there is the SAD.....

At least McCain is busy doing town halls than filling up big arenas like Obama. Obama is cranking in the money, and there will be plenty of favors to pay when it's over. I'd rather vote for the guy who doesn't like fundraising and is jumping around trying to do his best to get money and voters than the "rock star" who is rolling in the money.

John McCain is going to get annihilated in November. He is toast.

"McCain's national campaign staff is slightly less than half the size of the 800+-person behemoth behind Barack Obama who, some estimate, is burning through more than $40 million per month. That takes some of the shine off the $52 million he reported raising in June."

Some estimate? Who are the "some"? Are they the same ones who said Obama raised 30 million in June before his campaign announced he raised 52 million? I understand the desire of the LA Times to protect its sources, but come on. To print something like that, you need to find someone willing to have their name in the paper to go with it. That would be journalism.

I don't think the staff of the LA Times would like it if I said that some say the LA Times will be closing by the end of the week. They'd want to know who said that...was it the group of homeless people down the street or the publisher and his (or her) business associates? Attribution for a statement like that MATTERS. Please practice better journalism.

Your point is well taken but there's more. In the three days you've sampled, he also has two town hall meetings. He seems to take a more intimate approach to seeking votes and seeking financial support (3 finance events) as well as maintaining access with the press (3 media interview sessions). Sounds like he's a "look me in the eyes" guy. And are his finance events still open to the press? I had heard they were. His preference for the town hall format indicates to me that he's ready to be put on the spot by any questioner and that people have access to him to share ideas and critique as well as support. He's also sought out audiences that are not friendly. His personal approach sounds good to me, even if he doesn't have all the money in the world.

Is he still running? I thought that since he's almost completely dropped out of MSM headlines (in favor of that other guy), that he'd joined Hillary in early retirement.

Nice article, but quite slanted toward a highly critical view of McCain as a shameless fundraiser. Only in the last two paragraphs does the author, Mr Malcolm, discuss Obama. Furthermore, Mr Malcolm fails to do any real analysis by showing how much time in a week or month is spent fundraising versus discussing issues. Nor does he present the opinion that the two activities are related since candidates raise finds by making stands on issues to define their candidacy. This article falls below the standard of poor journalism into the realm of shoddy political advocacy.

Did your hear? Barack Obama tied his left shoe with two bows. He must be smart? Perhaps the reason Sen. McCain has to keep the fund raising going is because of the media's love affair the Harvard Educated (like Bush), black man from Kansas named Barry? Media Bias? Noooo....right wing conspiracy.

My sense is that somebody willing to say or do anything to get elected lacks the integrity to make decisions based upon the interests of other people like you and me and it might well be dangerous.

Black Liberation Theology is based upon Marxist Ideology and Obama's books point to his understanding of this. Do you really want to push our Government towards Marxism? It's very close when you consider that Pelosi and the Senate might will pick up a Super Majority this fall as well.

The 4th estate is treading dangerously close to shooting itself in the foot. Careful what you wish for.

Soory Malcolm;

Obama is also devoting MORE and MORE time to fundraising - according to the Wash post:

Obama's campaign would not say how much of his total was raised from small donors who gave online, and official reports are not due to be filed until Sunday. But an examination of his campaign schedule -- which has been packed with high-dollar fundraising events -- would suggest that he relied less on Internet donors than he did in February, when he took in $55.4 million.


The shift has been noticed by top Obama fundraisers, who have been busily planning the kind of big-money events the candidate was able to bypass in the heat of the primary campaign. Several said in interviews that the campaign is no longer seeing the kind of online bonanza that occurred during Obama's long battle with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, when more than $1 million was flowing in each day.

If this were Obama campaigning at small-town whistle stops, this would be a "grass-roots campaign", by a "man of the people", seeking financial support from "the ordinary citizen".

But instead, it's "McCain is in financial trouble".

You hope.

July 18th, 2008 9:18 am
July 18th, 2008 6:51 am

Let it be clearly understood that I am only speaking for myself here.

Like any good novelist, or Political Theorist, who thinks ahead regarding "the best of all possible worlds". Who firmly believes, "Majority Rules", except in matters of Unalienable Birth Rights [construction sound] that cannot be sold, or given, or taken away. Who posts whose thoughts to [rhrhrhrhrhr...] expand horizons. Who has NO intention of forcing whose world view on anyone, but who will try to openly and honestly create reasonable majorities [board sound] [saw continues]...

Who should decide whether a patient is too old for surgery or other aggressive medical treatment?

You are currently logged in as adolph_ochs

— William Hale, 20016

The personnel difference for Obama can be accounted for by factoring in AME Church congregant and Nation of Islam participant help.

I certainly have to say that you are either fully ignorant of the current state of the presidential race, or are just another addition to the 90% or so of the MSM that is part of the Barack Husien Obama press corps.

1) There are a couple reasons that you might state "with slightly-starry-eyed local reporters, some of whom will secretively ask for autographs despite their outward objectivity." reason one is that you know all media should be on the "Chosen One", so anyone actually covering McCain must be in love with him. Reason two is that you just want to paint them that way.

2) You seem to be completely in the dark about how the races are working right now. Your "Chosen One" is burning money at a rate of $42,000,000 a month, and is also doing the exact same thing with its travel plans. Making money. What is more, is that "The Chosen One" is wickedly adding unsuspecting people to its roles of donators, people who simply buy a campaign button, or T-Shirt and likely even a bottle of water, maybe just for a keepsake, or to sell on ebay to some loser Obama Follower who does not live near where Obama will be.

Obama is ahead in every national poll, in virtually every "purple" state, and closing the gap even in Arizona. By next month, when he announces his July fundraising numbers, he'll be ahead in that, too.

Meanwhile, the Banker's Hours candidate McDubya can't figure out what to do with Gramm-gate and Viagra-gate. His one message is: I should be president because I was a POW. His lost, thousand mile stare during the "viagra" question pretty much sums what a disaster he is.

The principle complaint by the Obama-haters on this blog is that they don't know what he stands for, compared to McCain.

Obviously, none of these folks have made any effort to find out what either man stands for. A quick visit to Obama's website and to McCain's web-site would answer all their questions.

But it's easier to complain: "I don't know anything about him."

Whose fault is that? Stupidity is voluntary.

noticed the detectable slant to la times stories lately?
not just politics but other less important subjects as well
are the layoffs have that big an effect?

Funny, that you haven't done the same analysis for Obama. The reality that Mr. Obama and every politician running for office maximizes their schedule.

It would be interesting to know how many fund raisers take place with Americans living abroad. Since Obama has already developed and published his plan for Iraq - he made his mind up, without direct input form leaders on the ground or an actual personal tour, this massive trip overseas is simply a media tour wrapped around the opportunity to raise money.

If he were really interested in Iraq and Afghanistan, Sen. Obama would have gone without the cameras and not made it a world tour - like so many other members of Congress have been doing for years.

Mandelay. Put on the spot, at a town hall meeting, by a vet about his votes. Johnny boy told the guy that he had it all wrong. Only problem, the vet got the info from goverment voting records. John Mc cain has voted NO against vets and women more time than even he cares to remember. Maybe thats a good thing about senior sometimers (some times you remember and sometimes you don't). You can make like you don't remember things that might make you look like a fool. Insurance pay for Birth Control meds, ring a bell? another No vote. he did vote YES for Viagra. Must need the stuff.

Seems rather biased to focus on McCain's supposed "secret" concern with fund raising. Isn't that par for the course for most political candidates? Doesn't BH Obama need to do the same thing?

I think I'll stick with the less glitzy but more experienced and centrist McCain, who will have a lesser chance of damaging the economy even more than it is. Of course, the billionaire liberals who support BH Obama won't feel the sting of BH Obama's incredibly oppressive tax plans which will destroy the middle class). It's just way too risky to place this country's fate in the hands of someone who has basically done nothing in his career (not to mention his demonstrated lack of responsibility such that he voted "present" over 100 times to avoid taking a politically difficult or principled position). McCain has decades of experience and accomplishments. It's a clear choice.

I like the McCain shills on here. Some may call them low-grade morons, but I see a strategy.

They're trying to associate the words "scared", "unknown", and "outsider" with Obama.

Their problem is that I associate the words "old", "tired", "same", and "loser" with McCain and this whole xenophobia strategy.

I'm really tired of reading Obama troll's comments in the top third of every blog I visit. Knock it off Obama. Stop paying these jerks, stop encouraging this behavior, just stop.

GM is one of the first big corporations to offshore their production instead of developing new technology to reduce gas consumption, which was inline with conservative policy to keep oil companies big profit intact. The crisis in this country has been long in the making and the economy is at the brink of collapse, mostly thanks to the corporate greed with no ethics and no accountability, but manipulating people with pseudo moral and empty promises to line big execs pockets. The more workers they layoff, the higher they get paid. HP ex CEO Carly, who started the anti HP tradition and laying workers off, had to have TWO corporate jets--one wasn’t enough for her. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, and the middle class is vanishing faster than ever thanks to those big execs who laughed all the way to their financial planners.

The only way to take back the government is to vote for someone who’s NOT connected to this two-party sellout, and is on OUR side. WWW.VOTENADER.ORG. It’s time for a REAL change.

Under the current Republicans, we have a Justice Department that thwarts justice. A Labor Department that sides with employers. And an EPA that rejects anything not found in the bible. And some of you want to elect another Republican to the presidency?

Did all of your mothers drop you on your heads as a baby???

Perhaps you'd be interested in the Brooklyn Bridge? Or perhaps a piece of land owned by Charles Keating.

It's time for a change.

Who said "save the money and feed the homeless with it"? What a stupid remark.......Let's send our presidental canidates out on horse back and give speaches using a megaphone.

Wow, that was one fantastically slanted article.

Agenda much?

I'm a Dem, and I found that article offensive.
Journalism truly is dead.
Who is pulling your strings, Andrew?

No criticism of the cost of Obama's Ego renting out Denver Stadium, and using donor's cash to frivolously support his publicity agenda?

just disgusting.
No wonder the L.A. times is going under.

hopefully, you'll post an equally balanced article regarding Obama's fundraising techniques - including emails to everyone (INCLUDING SUPER DELEGATES) to donate $5 to have a shot at winning a seat in Denver stadium.

THAT turned even this Dem off.
Why does everyone back Obama so blindly in the press?

McCAin makes Ron Paul look like a much better candidate every day.....

It was very kind of you, John, to role model campaign suiting and scheduling on a day when who was stepping up to the plate regarding both. There is more than one way to win. That's why our US Capitol instead of looking like a jets and sharks ghetto from West Side Story, should be role modeling PEACE, so that people WANT to end conflict and work WITH us.

Hilary says "change" - the nation is silent.
John McCain says "change" - the nation is silent.
Obama says "change -now look" - the nation roars AHHH!
OHHH! - half the populace swoons.

Hilary says "universal health care" - the nation is silent.
McCain says "universal health care" - the nation is silent.
Obama says "uni what? oh yeah that - now look" - the nation explodes Eloquent! Visionary! Gifted! He's so wise!

WAKE UP AMERICA BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE - FORGET THE RUMORS AND JUST WATCH THE ACTIONS! This Hilary supporter is 110% for John McCain - more to follow.

McCain was in Traverse City yesterday! Who does your fact-checking?

(No, Muskegon Thursday evening. Overnighted Detroit, much of the day there Friday before flying to New York for the Conan O'Brien show and today's fundraisers.)

"McCain is not a lot smarter than the people voting for him. I think that is the attraction." (July 18, 2008 at 04:30 AM )

That may be true. And BO is probably a lot smarter than the people voting for him.

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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