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A video view inside the campaign strategy of John McCain

June 15, 2008 | 12:22 am

As consumers of politics, Americans watch these campaign events unfold before their eyes on TV or in person and they can only imagine the countless hours of planning behind each one. They probably don't even think about that part.

But as part of a broad remake of its Web operations in recent days, the John McCain campaign has launched a new blog, The McCain Report, which posts several items a day. It includes everything from a surprising tribute to Sen. Hillary Clinton's Democratic campaign to taking aMcCain campaign manager Rick Davis consults with the Arizona senator and presumptive Republican presidential nominee documented shot at a specific New York Times reporter for "carrying water for Team Obama again."

Right on the redesigned website's homepage in the middle upper right is a tab called "Strategy." Click on that and watch a 15-minute PowerPoint demonstration led by Campaign Manager Rick Davis.

It fits in with the McCain Straight Talk image because campaigns are not normally comfortable laying out such detailed presentations for just anyone to see. These are the kinds of demonstrations that go on daily inside campaign conference rooms -- and they're stopped if anyone other than the invited walks in.

Whether or not you like McCain as a candidate, the fast-moving video is....

...a revealing glimpse into the inner thinking of an American presidential campaign. They are like surgeons planning an operation. The discussion is clinical and, above all, candid.

Unspoken on this Davis tape is its intent to address the almost audible grumbling heard among some Republicans in recent days over some poor campaign organization and missed opportunities to score points against the Obama operation.

Some, for instance, thought McCain could have landed more aggressive blows over the hypocrisy of the Illinois reformer and change agent relying on such a longtime Washington insider as Jim Johnson to head his vice presidential search effort.

Johnson was forced to resign last week after revelations that he got special loan rates from Countrywide Financial, which Obama had criticized by name as a predatory lender.

These usually internal PowerPoint conversations drive and shape the events and messages the public and media end up seeing and hearing on TV about 10 to 14 days later. The talk is of favorables and unfavorables, latest tracking polls, strengths and weaknesses, burn rates and so forth.

Davis admits, for instance, what an uphill road it is for McCain in the current unpopular Republican political climate. "Among the worst in modern American history," he calls it.

He talks of the 11 regions McCain's staff has divided the country into, suggests "watching California closely" because McCain over-performs among independents and talks about "message development," the themes the candidate and his surrogates will be hitting in coming days.

Davis also talks of the lean lessons learned in McCain's financial collapse a year ago and how the campaign is operating nationally with under 300 staffers vs. Obama's 800+. And he shows that while Obama is out-fund-raising McCain, the Arizona senator is collecting more each month from donors and is holding the "burn rate" down to a fraction of Obama's, who routinely spends more than he raises each month.

The strategy video is not specifically designed for fund-raising, although if it inspires such confidence in viewers they're moved to click the Donate button, who are they to refuse?

Obviously, no campaign is going to reveal any real secrets in such a public tape. But the content and flow are instructive about the operations of a national campaign. The Ticket recommends watching it here.

--Andrew Malcolm