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In typical Dole fashion, key decisions were made by default. When Will brought in press secretary Nelson Warfield, who had worked in Ron Lauder's unsuccessful 1989 New York City mayoral campaign, Dole met with him for all of seven minutes--and then pronounced him O.K. For campaign manager, Lacy selected Scott Reed, a cool bureaucrat who had no ties to Dole but who had run the Republican National Committee for Haley Barbour. Reed had to be persuaded that Dole would let the campaign manager actually manage the campaign. By the time Dole locked up the nomination, every member of the original family except Coe was history, replaced by professionals chosen by Reed. They shared one trait: greater loyalty to their careers than to the candidate.
A SHAKY START
The assembly of the November 5 group, as the new Clinton message team called itself, began a few months before the secret meeting at Squier's town house. In late 1994, Schoen was standing in a departure lounge at a Nashville airport, cursing his luck at missing a plane, when his beeper went off: "Call Dick Morris." Schoen dialed the familiar Connecticut number. "Doug," Morris told him, "I have this client, but I'm underground."
The client was the President. Morris asked Schoen if he was interested in doing some polling for the White House. It was an offer no pollster could refuse. Schoen was also eager to work with Morris, who had been a mentor to him. In high school Schoen had canvassed races for Morris on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Schoen and his partner, Penn, who had attended Harvard together, later distinguished themselves as New Democratic consultants and pollsters for Mayor Ed Koch of New York City, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Evan Bayh of Indiana. They had also polled for a succession of Arkansas politicians, including Clinton's rival, former Governor Jim Guy Tucker.
Morris wanted Schoen but was wary of Penn, a large and rumpled man with an absentminded brilliance and a disheveled charm. Penn, who can work wonders with a laptop so long as he hasn't left it behind in a cab, could bring a nonpolitical, outside-the-box perspective to the team. He had been polling mainly for corporate clients, helping AT&T, for example, test TV spots during its corporate war against MCI. But Morris didn't really want him. A few years before, Penn had shot down some big-think Morris ideas during a meeting with a client of his, and Morris had never forgiven or forgotten.
Schoen and Morris met privately with the President for the first time in February 1995. "I found him somewhat withdrawn," recalls Schoen. "There was a sense that the air had been taken out of him." Clinton asked for Schoen's analysis of the situation. "I remember you from our Arkansas work," Schoen told him. "Our polling then showed you as a middle-of-the-road Democrat. Now you have to get back to the center." He wasn't saying anything the President didn't know. Since November, Morris had been whispering in Clinton's ear about "riding the wave" of the G.O.P. tsunami. Clinton started paddling that way with his middle-class Bill of Rights speech.