A few weeks ago, I wrote about the novel campaign structure that McCain's election manager, Rick Davis, was building to capitalize on his candidate's strength and minimize the effect of some of his institutional weaknesses. The Post picks up the story today.

The idea is that ten regional campaign managers, all reporting directly to Davis, would take responsibility for all campaign operations in their regions. Davis and a small staff in Arlington, VA will assemble budgets and, with input from strategists Charlie Black, Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter, design overall strategy and message. But then, the thinking goes, it's hands off.

The campaign would not rely on a headquarters-based tier of regional political directors, regional field directors and their desks -- that's the traditional way that general election campaigns have been organized.

About five of the ten have been hired. They are said to include Marlys Popma, a long-standing conservative activist in Iowa, and Buzz Jacobs, who ran McCain's shoestring campaign in South Carolina.

For inspiration, Davis looked to the 1984 general election campaign of Ronald Reagan, which was decentralized in a similar fashion.

Aides said that McCain's campaign was likely to rely much more on the flush-with-cash Republican National Committee for targeting and turnout, and that the campaign staff itself would be much smaller than its Democratic counterpart.

There is grumbling.

Many vendors and consultants who were counting on a Bushian general election campaign to boost their companies' bottom lines will be disappointed. Usually, the RNC finds a way to make sure that every big consultant who wants in gets some business, but many McCain managers have spent the past eight years on the outside looking in.

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