McCain’ Floundering Outreach

Two months ago, Sen. John McCain’s campaign released this announcement:

U.S. Senator John McCain’s presidential exploratory committee today announced that Marlene D. Elwell will serve as the Deputy Director of Coalitions, as well as the National Director of the Americans of Faith coalition for the Arizona Senator’s exploratory committee.

Elwell was also friend and advisor to the Christian Coalition from its inception through the 1990’s, lending her years of expertise to the building of the grassroots movement. She has continued working to build coalitions within the faith community. In 2004, she led the effort in Michigan to pass the state’s amendment to define marriage as the union between one man and one woman.

“Senator McCain has a proven track record of supporting conservative causes, and is the principled voice our party and nation needs,” said Elwell. “It will be my privilege to serve the Senator and communicate his message of common sense conservatism nationwide.”

McCain stated that he was grateful to have the support of Elwell and looked forward to working with her. “Marlene is a highly respected conservative leader and is an important addition to my team. Her advice, counsel, and networking abilities will be instrumental in communicating my strong record of social and fiscal conservatism.”

On Friday, The Washington Post reported:

In the midst of the Sen. John McCain’s presidential announcement tour comes news that Marlene Elwell — one of the Arizona Senator’s leading social conservative advocates — has parted ways with the campaign.

Elwell, who was one of McCain’s chief liaisons to the faith community, confirmed her departure in a brief telephone interview this evening. She did not offer any further explanation on the decision.

Elwell, who is based in Michigan, rose to prominence in social conservatives as a leading member of Pat Robertson’s campaign. She was also a prime mover in the Michigan effort to define marriage between a man and a woman that passed in 2004.

This news came just two days after the Post reported that McCain’s various past efforts to appeal to the Right were, at best, half-hearted:

[McCain’s advisers] argue that it was never McCain’s hope to become the darling of social and religious conservatives — only to get enough votes among those Republicans to win the nomination. “McCain’s goal wasn’t to become their candidate,” a campaign official said.

Elwell’s role on the McCain campaign was to “convince fellow Christian right activists that the senator is not the social moderate they think he is.”

Now she is gone.  So has McCain finally decided to stop trying to ingratiate himself with the Right, or has Elwell finally realized that McCain’s previous efforts to do so were pure political pandering?