McCain’s Circle of Advisors
by Dan Nowicki
May. 20, 2008
The Arizona Republic
Sen. John McCain’s presidential-campaign team underwent a major overhaul in summer 2007. Nearly broke after six months of weak fundraising and heavy spending, McCain had to lay off dozens of staffers. Then, Terry Nelson, his national campaign manager, and John Weaver, his longtime political guru, exited, taking several more senior officials with them.
McCain’s lean-and-mean team managed to pull off a major political comeback in this year’s primaries. Recent days, however, have found some aides with lobbying ties leaving the campaign. On Sunday, Tom Loeffler, a Texas congressman turned lobbyist who served with McCain in the House during the 1980s, quit his roles as national campaign co-chairman and national finance chairman.
Here is a glimpse at who is advising McCain as he gears up for the general-election battle:
Reprising his role as campaign manager from McCain’s 2000 race, Davis, a former Washington, D.C., lobbyist, helped steer the demoralized and nearly bankrupt McCain 2008 organization out of red ink to victory in the 2008 Republican primaries.
A longtime Republican operative, Reagan administration veteran and, in recent years, a well-connected Washington lobbyist, Black emerged as McCain senior strategist in the wake of Weaver’s departure.
Perhaps McCain’s No. 1 confidant and, some say, his “alter ego,” Salter and McCain’s friendship withstood the 2007 shake-up and Salter remains a senior adviser and his speechwriter. McCain and Salter have co-authored five books, including the bestselling memoir Faith of My Fathers.
A former Bush White House insider and Karl Rove understudy who helped engineer Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s 2006 re-election, Schmidt’s communications expertise proved indispensable during McCain’s primary struggle against his chief rival, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
The charismatic Texas political adman is another veteran of Bush’s White House campaigns, including the 2000 race in which he helped Bush crush McCain in the GOP primaries. But he’s also an unabashed fan of Democrat Barack Obama, so it’s unclear how long he’ll stick with McCain if Obama secures his party’s nomination.
An independent-minded Republican in the McCain vein, the senator from South Carolina earned the sobriquet “Lindsey Grahamnesty” for his support of his friend McCain’s bipartisan immigration-reform bill. Though he has ruffled enough conservative feathers to inspire his own intraparty Senate challenger, Graham’s enthusiastic support proved a boon for McCain in the 2008 GOP South Carolina primary.
The 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate and independent senator from Connecticut has long been a friend and ally to McCain. His endorsement and campaign appearances with McCain were crucial to McCain’s come-from-behind win in this year’s New Hampshire primary.
In 1996, McCain was national campaign chairman for Gramm’s ill-fated presidential bid. Now the former senator from Texas is a national campaign co-chairman for McCain, helping out with economic and fundraising advice.
McCain installed the former Goldman Sachs partner, longtime GOP fundraiser and McCain campaign-cash “Innovator” as the Republican National Committee’s 2008 Victory finance chairman.
The former Hewlett-Packard chief executive is the McCain-anointed RNC Victory chairwoman and has established herself as an enthusiastic spokeswoman for the senator’s economic policies. She’s even made some lists of possible McCain running mates.
The onetime Congressional Budget Office director is a senior McCain policy adviser on economic issues. He also is a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, D.C.
McCain’s policy coordinator is his former Senate legislative director and the former deputy director of the Project for the New American Century, a neoconservative think tank co-founded in 1997 by pundit Bill Kristol and credited with influencing Bush administration foreign policy.
McCain’s foreign policy adviser whose resume includes serving as president of the anti-Saddam Hussein Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, an offshoot of the Project for the New American Century.
Lisa Graham Keegan
The lightning-rod former Arizona superintendent for public instruction and state legislator, Keegan stepped down from a Maricopa County job to focus on advising McCain on education policies. Keegan was on President Bush’s short list for Education secretary in late 2000. She is married to John Keegan, the former Peoria mayor.
McCain’s deputy campaign manager is an associate of Davis’ at his northern Virginia lobbying firm Davis Manafort. He started out as McCain’s national e-campaign director.
McCain’s former Senate chief-of-staff now serves as his campaign’s policy director.
The former finance director for Gramm’s 1996 GOP campaign and McCain’s 2000 campaign, she started out in a similar role for McCain’s 2008 operation but now is his senior adviser for scheduling and operations.
McCain made this veteran conservative activist and political operative a deputy RNC chairman. A lawyer, Donatelli aided Bush-Cheney pointman James Baker in the 2000 Florida presidential recount controversy.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign manager switched to Team McCain after Giuliani wiped out in the GOP primaries. He’s now the RNC’s senior adviser for political operations.
McCain’s New Hampshire spokeswoman got a battlefield promotion after his senior communications team split last summer. She remains the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s national communications director.
(Original headline: “A look at McCain’s circle of advisers”)