McCain Strays Off Message, But Which Message?
Candidate ad libs as staffers attempt to strategize
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2008 1:38 PM CDT
Republican presidential candidate, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., right, arrives in Denver, Tuesday, July 29, 2008.    (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
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(Newser) – John McCain relishes interacting with voters and sparring with the press, a style that's helped earn him his "maverick" reputation even as it ties his advisers and staff in knots. The campaign as a whole is turning to Karl Rove-style tactics, but the candidate's unpredictable behavior is making it tough to present a united front, the Washington Post reports.

"It’s the candidate," one strategist says bluntly. Putting Steve Schmidt in charge of the day-to-day operation and an ambitious plan to stick to a daily message were intended to focus both candidate and campaign, but neither effort has paid off. Asked recently about his energy proposal, McCain responded, “I call it the Lexington Project, my friends, but you can call it anything you want.”