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Saturday, February 18, 2006 

Hackett in the PD

Via the Plain Dealer:

For all the storm whipped up by his fiery parting words, however, the full story of Hackett's decision to withdraw may be more complex than his initial comments indicated.

Interviews with people familiar with his campaign suggest that Hackett's team was struggling not only with outside pressures from Democrats eager to avoid a primary, but also from internal tensions stemming partly from Hackett's personality and his newness to the grueling pressures of running a hotly contested, high-profile Senate race.

Former aides say that some of the very strengths that made many Democrats see star potential in the tall, handsome, blunt-talking Marine major - his independence, his irreverence, his disdain for politics as usual - also made it particularly hard for Hackett to adjust to the demands of running for Senate...

"It's a very hard thing to make the jump to running for U.S. Senate," said Mark Blumenthal, a pollster who worked for Hackett's campaign. "There's a reason why people who have done it a lot of times are better at it - because you learn the hard way how hard is it to raise that money and how important it is to have experienced people around and to trust them."...

Former Hackett aides say the biggest problem facing his campaign at the end was insufficient money. Hackett cited the problem himself in an interview with The Plain Dealer earlier this week. Despite his initial rant on party leaders, he said, the overriding reason for his exit was a realization that he couldn't raise the $3 million he thought he needed to win the primary.

In the last several months of 2005, Hackett had raised almost as much as Brown - but he had spent much of it on a campaign staff that some thought was too large for a candidate struggling to raise money....

One of their biggest obstacles to banking that money, they said, was that Hackett hated fund raising...

While most candidates share that feeling, people familiar with Hackett's campaign say he was especially resistant to efforts by aides to get him to use one of the most efficient but unpleasant fund raising techniques: sitting at the phone for hours, calling friends, relatives, and strangers to ask for money. Tension over the problem led in January to the departure of his finance director.

On the weekend before he bowed out, aides say, he stunned his staff by refusing at the last minute to attend certain events - including appearances at several black churches - that had apparently been put on his schedule over his objections.

His wife, Suzi, alluded in an interview before his withdrawal to Hackett's difficulty adjusting to the life of a candidate.

"He's a very autonomous person," she said. "It's been very hard for him to do the political thing, where you let everyone schedule your life."

Fund raising in particular, she said, had been "a real struggle for him" because "Paul doesn't like to ask for help."

..."The political process destroys individuality, creativity and leadership. When you have to spend all your time begging for money, begging for approval, and perhaps most importantly, fighting your fellow Democrats tooth and nail, it takes a lot out of you."

He downplays the "rumors" due to assurances by Reid and Schumer but points people to Clermont County Democratic chairman David Lane. Who then turns it into a "he said she said" and then assures us he has "seen no proof that a Democrat" was behind the rumors.

I hope Hackett finds a good place for himself inside the political arena. It would be heartbreaking to see someone like him give up completely. (Although, I bet - he has a pretty nice life outside of the publics view and who doesn't want to spend more time with thier kids?)

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