McCain has placed Schmidt in charge of the day-to-day running of his campaign operation. It was a bold move, but Schmidt is one of the rising stars of Republican politics. The New Jersey native cut his teeth under Rove and in the Bush White House. He ran the 2004 Republican war room that was responsible for taking down Kerry. He also worked hard on getting conservative judges through the process of appointment to the Supreme Court. Then he guided the re-election campaign of California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, to victory.
Schmidt has been joined by other key figures from the Rove-era Bush White House. They include the formidable figure of Nicole Wallace, a Bush campaign spokeswoman in 2004, and Greg Jenkins, a former Fox TV journalist who once worked for Bush's campaign. The group has sought to tighten an operation that was floundering under its previous leadership. They have also given it a sharply negative edge.