The Note: McCain 3.0

"The abrupt shift in leadership, announced to McCain's staff yesterday morning, came after weeks of complaints from Republicans outside the campaign and growing concerns within it about the lack of a clear message, the cumbersome decision-making process, the sloppy staging of events, and a schedule driven largely by fundraising priorities rather than political necessity," Dan Balz and Michael Shear write in The Washington Post.

An early warning sign: "One strategist wondered whether McCain was continuing to vest authority in multiple leaders, a recipe for continued frustration. Even after the move, he remains surrounded by the same small clutch of political advisers: Davis, Schmidt, former lobbyist Charles R. Black Jr. and longtime chief of staff Mark Salter," Balz and Shear write. (And that's not even counting Mike Murphy.)

McCain has been here before (for better and/or worse): "Several senior party strategist suggested that the roots of this shakeup are exactly the same as those which led McCain to part ways with longtime adviser John Weaver and campaign manager Terry Nelson last summer," Washingtonpost.com's Chris Cillizza writes. "Those roots? That McCain refuses to put a single person in charge, preferring a group of people -- at times rivals -- to offer a variety of opinions from which he can pick and choose."

"The question Wednesday was whether the move -- elevating senior strategist Steve Schmidt to head day-to-day operations and shifting campaign manager Rick Davis to a lesser role -- came soon enough," Maeve Reston and Mark Z. Barabak write in the Los Angeles Times.

More change to come: "Mike Dennehy, a longtime McCain adviser who served as the campaign's first national political director, may return to the position later this month," The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder reports.

And that Colombia trip that looked emblematic of the campaign's lack of discipline 24 hours ago looks inspired in the wake of developments McCain had nothing to do with.

"Even if the timing was little more than an advantageous coincidence for McCain, who traveled to Colombia largely to identify with Uribe's efforts fighting narcoterrorism and to advocate for rewarding his administration with a new free-trade agreement, his new friendship with the right-leaning populist paid off," Sasha Issenberg writes in The Boston Globe.

"Although the timing of the rescue was a coincidence and Mr. McCain's trip to Colombia had nothing to do with it, the event nonetheless put him in the middle of classified talks about covert operations with the head of another government," Elisabeth Bumiller writes in The New York Times.

"McCain spends 24 hours on Colombia soil, hostages are rescued. (It sounds almost like a Chuck Norris Interweb fact . . .)" per ABC's Karen Travers and Gregory Wallace.

One theory: "If Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe were going to help one of the presidential candidates, it would likely be McCain more than Sen, Barack Obama since the all-but-official Republican presidential nominee supports the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement while Sen. Barack Obama doesn't," Frank James writes for the Chicago Tribune.

(And the RNC may want you to remember that it was Obama's name -- not McCain's -- that popped up on a seized FARC laptop.)

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