25 July 2007
Enroute Dallas, Texas
Yesterday, you might have heard or read, a very good man named Tom Collamore resigned as the manager of the Friends of Fred Thompson operation.
For those who may not live under the all-seeing eye of the Federal Election Commission, the Friends of Fred Thompson is what is known as a “testing the waters” organization. The FEC rules permit a person who is considering a run for a federal office – Congress, Senate or President – to raise and spend money to gauge the level of support which is available.
Based upon that, a person can (a) say, “I have tested the waters and found them empty and cold” and bow out or, (b) say, “The waters are warm and inviting and I am today announcing my candidacy for …” whatever.
Thompson is in the “testing the waters” phase hence the care taken in not referring to Mr. Collamore as the “campaign manager.”
This is the life we’ve chosen …
What the staff does during one of these “testing the waters” periods is to do the nuts and bolts things so that if the potential candidate decides to become an official candidate, the groundwork – legal, financial, press, political, etc. – has been laid so the principal isn’t closed out because someone forgot (or didn’t know they were supposed) to do something.
As you know, I am not an attorney. I am a political hack. Therefore I work with attorneys who are skilled in understanding the constantly shifting sands of FEC rules, regulations and advisory opinions and keep me – and anyone testing the waters – out of hot water.
Working in a political campaign – anything from school board to President of the United States – is, by definition, a temporary position. The only question is: How temporary?
At some point the campaign is going to end either in victory – your candidate takes an oath to well and truly perform his/her duties – or your candidate loses in which case … the campaign is also over.
Note how I careful structured that paragraph: the campaign ended in victory; but the candidate loses.
There is an old golfing story about the PGA tour caddy who is sitting in the clubhouse after a disappointing round which he describes thus: We had pars on one and two. We birdied three. Then the dumb SOB hit it in the water on four.
The Lad’s association with the McCain campaign lasted about six months. Mr. Collamore’s association with the Thompson operation lasted about six weeks. But in those six weeks, Tom Collamore put into place and motion those things which needed to be put into place an motion such that the candidate can make a decision based upon his belief in his candidacy, not his reliance on his campaign.
Too many candidates don’t understand that crucial difference.-----
Another issue which attends changes in the campaign structure isn’t how the grownups deal with it - We’ve seen this before. We’ve been the one’s packing the boxes before – It is how the younger people – many of whom have never been in the rough and tumble of a campaign – are kept calm, having become very worried about the campaign’s status.
I usually use a metaphor involving a small boat: If you are sitting on the port (or starboard) side of a 12 or 15 foot sailing dinghy and someone decides to get off and someone else decides to get on what happens? The boat gets tippy until everyone is settled in.
After that, assuming the appropriate skills are available, the sails are set, the course is chosen, and the boat sails steadily and well.
A change like Tom Collamore leaving, by its nature, causes some temporary tippiness in the boat. But the appropriate skills are available and, when Thompson decides on a course, the SS Fred will sail true and well.
To Be Continued