Jim Mills’ departure from the Thompson campaign is actually even bigger than it looks. Not that Thompson couldn’t function without Mills — he only been in the office for a week, I understand — but the aftershocks are huge.
You’re seeing complaints like this, from the innermost of Thompson’s inner circle, as told to Fox News:
When Thompson appears on Jay Leno tonight it will mark the campaigns complete repudiation of a new media campaign strategy and announcement plan that the original Fredheads had designed over several months and finalized in August. More resignations of key founding Fredheads are coming. Soon NONE of the people who got the buzz started in March may remain.
Thompson did Leno in June and numerous senior aides said at the time he would “never return to Hollywood to announce – that’s what McCain did! We won’t use video, that’s what Hillary did. We will let Fred be Fred. We are launching from the (Grand Ole) Opry then hitting New Hampshire and Iowa.”
Now they are copying both McCain and Hilary by appearing on Leno and a video. The original Fredheads are no longer angry or frustrated; most have been fired already or given up.
Here’s the thing: there are only a handful of folks who would count as key founding Fredheads, maybe two handfuls if you use a looser definition. I’ve eliminated a few suspects; one Fredhead who I suspected said he wasn’t the source for the Fox quote, but that “this has changed things.” When asked what happened that gets a guy like Mills out of a job after a week, the response was, “People are callous… this is a Washington power play. You’ve seen people do this.”
Another Fredhead said of the one who ripped Fred to Fox, “He has his reasons for doing it… They treated [Jim Mills] exceedingly badly.”
One of the shames of this shocking personnel move by Team Thompson is that we won’t get to see what Mills, a legendary producer and off-camera reporter on Capitol Hill, could do on the other side of the microphone. One Thompsonite described him as “the anti-Kevin Madden (Romney’s spokesman)… Everybody has these slick spokesmen, and we were going to have the guy who was extremely well connected and trusted by his former colleagues.”
The Fox News article notes:
Mills, a long-time Capitol Hill producer for FOX News, was told he was being let go on Friday. A little over a month earlier, Mills was personally recruited and hired as spokesman by Fred and Jeri Thompson at their dinner table.
Needless to say, the people who were involved in recruiting Mills have been left in a position well beyond awkward – you persuade a man with a sterling reputation to leave a secure job and step into another field, and within a few weeks, he’s dismissed. If that is what is spurring the public complaints from a “key founding Fredhead” to Fox, it’s hard to blame that person.