Senator John McCain is so quick to pick up his gold-colored cellphone to solicit advice -- from senators, campaign consultants, even the stray former deputy press secretary -- that aides, concerned about his tendency to adopt the last opinion he has heard, have tried to cut back on the time he has to make calls.
Mr. McCain is known to sign off on big campaign decisions and then to march off his own reservation. Two weeks ago, he publicly disagreed with his own spokeswoman, Jill Hazelbaker, after she used a line of attack against Senator Barack Obama that he had approved after careful strategizing within his campaign. Ms. Hazelbaker raced out of the Virginia campaign headquarters and refused to take Mr. McCain's calls of apology, aides said, and a plan to have Republican members of Congress use the same critical line about Mr. Obama's foreign trip fell apart.
Out of his hearing, Mr. McCain is called the White Tornado by some people who have worked for him over the years. Throughout his presidential campaign, he has been the overseer of a kingdom of dissenting camps, unclear lines of command and an unsettled atmosphere that keeps aides constantly on edge.
Even now, after a shake-up that aides said had brought an unusual degree of order to Mr. McCain's disorderly world in the last month, two of his pollsters are at odds over parts of the campaign's message, while past and current aides have been trading snippy exchanges debating the wisdom of attack advertisements he has aimed at Mr. Obama.