From NBC's Chuck Todd and NBC/NJ's Matthew E. Berger
For now, it's tough to truly call the elevation of Steve Schmidt to day-to-day manager of the McCain campaign a full-fledged shakeup. Schmidt had shared responsibility for the message of the campaign with Charlie Black, Rick Davis, and Mark Salter for some time. But the shifts in responsibility could be a precursor to a real shakeup -- and that would be the addition of one-time McCain campaign strategist Mike Murphy, who helped oversee McCain's near upset of Bush in 2000.
According to sources, McCain and Murphy personally talk quite a bit, and it's no secret McCain would like Murphy officially involved. Davis and Black are reportedly not enthusiastic about the addition of Murphy because then their roles would truly be diminished. Murphy hired Schmidt for his posts in Schwarzenegger world, so there's likely much less resistance with Schmidt in reaching out to Murphy than with Davis and Black.
It looks like today's announcement was designed to do two things: 1) calm the GOP chattering class who are getting nervous about the trajectory of the McCain campaign, and 2) potentially grease the wheels for the return of Murphy to the fold.
There isn't much time to do any more shaking up so expect any more movements to come in the next few weeks or not at all.
Moreover, the elevation of Schmidt to coordinator of daily operations is an important push for the McCain campaign from primary mode to the general election. While Schmidt has been a McCain adviser for a while, he brings to the top of the staff a hand with general election experience, something sorely lacking in McCain world.
There has been talk in the last few weeks that McCain was having trouble transitioning to a general election candidacy, and that it had not fully utilized the four-month head start it had over Obama. And the campaign has not been viewed as polished, which is why we are likely seeing the focus on staffers experienced in advance and stagecraft.