Tales from the meltdown (from the Orlando Sentinel's Jim Stratton
U.S. Senate candidate Katherine Harris slogged through another political morass Saturday when she suggested that one of her most senior advisers had fed embarrassing information to the press.
Appearing at a gun show in Orlando, Harris said that Adam Goodman, her longtime media consultant, had told the St. Petersburg Times that he and chief strategist Ed Rollins were leaving the campaign.
The story, Harris said, was wrong.
"Ed is not leaving my campaign," the Longboat Key Republican said. "Ed Rollins is very committed to my campaign."
The two-term congresswoman, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, then accused Goodman of spreading the story.
"That article basically came from Adam," Harris said, "and it was not accurate."
Asked whether Goodman was still with the campaign, she said: "He is, is, uh . . . heh . . . no comment."
Harris' remarks were surprising, because Goodman has worked with Harris for years and is considered one of her closest advisers. The candidate's words became puzzling when Harris phoned the Orlando Sentinel an hour later with a different story.
She said Goodman was still with the campaign and said "it was wrong" of her to say he leaked information.
"I shouldn't have said that," she said.
Harris could not explain the change or make clear why she had first refused to say whether Goodman was still working with her.
"I don't even know," she said. "That is so not like me."
And from yesterday's St. Petersburg Times
As Katherine Harris' rocky Senate campaign takes an increasingly evangelical Christian bent, her remaining top campaign staffers are preparing to jump ship.
Colleagues say Harris' closest confidante lately appears to be spiritual adviser Dale Burroughs, founder of the Biblical Heritage Institute in Bradenton.
"Dr. Dale," as she is known among campaign staffers, describes herself as a licensed clinical pastoral counselor who counsels in behavior temperament, career, crisis and disaster, among other things.
Burroughs has been advising Harris for years, but lately has had a more prominent role as Harris stopped listening to other campaign advisers. Burroughs said she has little role in the campaign beyond helping reach out to religious voters and is merely a Bible study partner and close friend.
Friends and advisers say Harris has been deeply religious all her life, but religion recently has become a central part of her campaign. Campaign staffers warily describe Harris as leading a "Christian crusade."
"It was always part of the background, but it was never an integral part of the campaign. It never engulfed her," said former campaign manager Jim Dornan, who quit the campaign in November but keeps in touch with staffers. "She's grasping for a pillar she thinks this campaign can be raised on."
Her top campaign advisers, having failed to persuade Harris to drop her struggling campaign against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, are preparing to leave. Those include Ed Rollins, a highly regarded GOP strategist and her top campaign adviser; Adam Goodman, her longtime Tampa-based media consultant; and campaign manager Jamie Miller. Harris has been aggressively campaigning for support among religious conservatives, hitting large churches and headlining a "Reclaiming America for Christ" conference in Broward County last weekend. She told hundreds of attendees she was "doing God's work" with her campaign.
Sounds like it's about time for an intervention, doesn't it?