MCCAIN EYES ‘GOP MAKEOVER’…. Alex Isenstadt reports today on John McCain’s “behind-the-scenes” efforts to “reshape the Republican Party in his own center-right image.”

McCain is recruiting candidates, raising money for them and hitting the campaign trail on their behalf. He’s taken sides in competitive House, Senate and gubernatorial primaries and introduced his preferred candidates to his top donors. […]

It’s all part of an approach that is at odds with most other recent failed presidential nominees, whose immediate response to defeat was to retreat from the electoral arena. But those familiar with McCain’s thinking say he has expressed serious concern about the direction of the party and is actively seeking out and supporting candidates who can broaden the party’s reach. […]

McCain told POLITICO in a brief interview that he was determined to play a major role in the GOP’s rebuilding effort….

John Weaver, a longtime McCain friend and strategist, added, “At a time when our party is struggling and has a lot of shrill voices and aggressive voices, he’s one that can expand our party.”

I seriously doubt that. It’s not that McCain can’t help connect individual candidates to wealth fundraising networks; he can. The problem is more about McCain’s capacity to “reshape” or “expand” much of anything.

He may have been the Republican Party’s presidential nominee last year, but John McCain isn’t especially influential in the GOP, on the Hill, or among the party’s rank and file. Over the summer, Gallup asked Republicans who speaks for the party. McCain came in fourth — behind Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, and Dick Cheney.

Just this morning, Limbaugh said, “I think it’s time for the McCain crowd to acknowledge they are losers and pack it in. They’ve done enough damage to the Republican Party.”

For that matter, it’s not at all clear how, exactly, McCain would change his party. The Arizona senator wants to “reshape” the GOP. Fine. But what does he want to “reshape” it into?

I have no idea, and my hunch is, McCain doesn’t either.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.