McCain's Message Guy

by Chris Bodenner
The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating profile on Steve Schmidt (aka "Sgt. Schmidt"), McCain's newest and most influential strategist:

Mr. Schmidt specializes in the combat that dominates today's political culture -- the minute-by-minute, talking point-vs.-talking point battles that fill a 24-hour news cycle. His formula: a tightly controlled message delivered repeatedly and with almost military-like precision. ... Above all, Mr. Schmidt argues that a campaign needs one positive message about its own candidate, and one negative message about the opponent. Sen. Obama has that: He's for change, while Sen. McCain represents more of the same. Sen. McCain long didn't have a strong, simple message of his own. Now, Mr. Schmidt has settled on this formula: Sen. Obama represents a big risk, while Sen. McCain rises above partisanship to put country first.

Conversely, we get: "[Obama] would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign."  Also, it appears Sgt. Schmidt has a bit of a temper:

Those who have worked with him before say the McCain campaign should steel itself. "The nostrils would flare, he would get very red-faced and angry, and you would just want to quit," Kevin Madden, a Bush war-room colleague, says. He also says he always learned something from Mr. Schmidt: "It was the learning part that would always make you forget the part where you basically wanted to crash a chair over his head."

Mr. Schmidt's intense approach matches the man. Two colleagues say that when Mr. Schmidt gets really angry, his nose bleeds, though Mr. Schmidt denies it. Sometimes he stares at a questioner for several moments while forming a response. Then words stream out of his mouth at a steady clip, in a distinct New Jersey accent.