Skip to comments.Mehlman, Rove boost McCain campaign
Posted on 03/08/2008 6:55:07 AM PST by OnRiver
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John McCain is getting much more than President Bush's endorsement and fundraising help for his campaign. Hes getting Bush's staff.
Its no secret that Steve Schmidt, Bushs attack dog in the 2004 election, and Mark McKinnon, the presidents media strategist, are performing similar functions for McCain now.
But other big-name Bushies are lining up to boost McCain, too.
Ken Mehlman, who ran Bushs 2004 campaign, is now serving as an unpaid, outside adviser to the Arizona Republican. Karl Rove, the presidents top political hand since his Texas days, recently gave money to McCain and soon after had a private conversation with the senator. A top McCain adviser said both Mehlman and Rove are now informally advising the campaign. Rove refused to detail his conversation with McCain.
The list could grow longer. Dan Bartlett, formerly a top aide in the Bush White House, and Sara Taylor, the erstwhile Bush political adviser, said they are eager to provide any assistance and advice possible to McCain.
Rove explained that he and McCain got to know each other during the 2004 campaign. In a separate interview, Mehlman noted that McCain was completely loyal to the president in 2004 and worked incredibly hard to help him get elected. According to Taylor, The Bush Republicans here in town are excited for John McCain.
Despite the presidents low approval ratings, there are clear benefits to this cozy relationship with the Bush team. They are seasoned operatives with a track record of winning back-to-back national elections in tough political environments. But there are obvious drawbacks. First and foremost, any association with the Bush administration helps Democrats make their case that McCain represents a clear extension of an unpopular presidency.
Spotlight reveals Obama camp missteps A tough spring ahead for McCain? Plouffe questions Clinton's openness One of those making that argument is Matt Dowd, Bushs chief strategist in 2004.
[McCain] has sided himself so closely to the administration, especially on Iraq, now having various Bush advisers that doesnt sit well with the public, said Dowd, who has recently broken with the Bush inner circle. The public wants the non-Bush candidate.
Dowd also argued that he believes that the proximity of Bushs advisers could lead McCain to a strategic mistake: refighting the 2004 campaign. There is a real danger of that, Dowd added. And I think some of the things John McCain has done, and how hes done it, has been a fight or a battle thats gone. I dont think this is going to be a terrorism election or a national security election.
The McCain adviser said Dowd's concern is unwarranted, pointing to the campaigns belief that the economy will play a far greater role in the 2008 race than in 2004's.
That hasnt stopped Democrats from seizing upon the Bush-McCain axis. When Bush and McCain met at the White House on Wednesday, a Democratic leaning group aired an ad that day in the swing states of Pennsylvania and Ohio titled McSame, attacking McCain as a Bush clone with similar policies on taxes, health care and the war in Iraq. The Democratic National Committee quickly posted a video of the news conference on its website. Beneath the video, it read that McCain would carry on Bushs failed economic and foreign policies.
The McCain campaign, for its part, has been coy about how or whether the senator will distance himself from the president.
McCain said that he intended to campaign with Bush but quickly added a caveat: only as it fits into his busy schedule. The scheduling disclaimer followed each of the five times in the 10-minute press conference that McCain invited Bush to join him on the trail.
For now, said a senior adviser to McCain who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the the No. 1 strategic goal was to solidify the base of the party. A strong majority of Republicans continue to approve of the president.
Yet independents and Democrats do not share Republicans' approval of Bush. And former Bush aides recognize the political exigencies surrounding the McCain-Bush relationship.
We agree on far more than we disagree on, Bartlett said. Everybody will do everything they can to help. And if part of being helpful means [to] stay away, Im sure people will stay away.
At the moment, McCains campaign seems to believe Bushs assistance is more valuable than not. But the McCain adviser noted that, down the road, the campaign will reinforce that [McCain] is an independent.
TM & © THE POLITICO & POLITICO.COM, a division of Allbritton
Was anyone else thinking “Larry Bud? I thought he was dead? Wouldn’t be much of an endorsement anyway.”
Is Ken much of an endorsement? He’s really a back office guy.
I’ll take a Rove over a Dowd anyday.
If McCain does manage to pull a come-from-behind victory over Hillary/Obama (and you have to consider him the underdog due to financing, width and depth of support, national mood, etc) it will be so lovely, the sound of all that wailing and gnashing of teeth throughout the land at the thought of: another 4 years with Rove!
Yes, I agree. I would love to see the man win. I think it starts with all of us here giving him a chance. Let’s look from now to the future. I think when you see the man, where he started and where he is now, you have to be impressed. I would rather have seen someone like Romney in office as the govt needs a financial shakeup, but McCain can get good people around him.
I don’t think there is any chance for Hillary to beat him, I don’t care what Ann Coulter says. In fact, Ann, if you’re reading this, Joe McCarthy would roll in his grave if he heard you say that you’re voting for Hillary. Have you forgotton what you’ve written and said for the past five years about liberals?
John McCain is NOT a liberal, and the more the occasional FR out here says he is, the sillier they look.
comic book intelligence ...
According to Taylor, The Bush Republicans here in town are excited for John McCain.
Both of them?
Rove's legacy is the loss of the Rep Congress and a fractured Rep party due to Rove's pushing amnesty and calling those of us opposed as nativists and bigots. Rove has been a disaster for the Rep party.
Rove & Mehlman are on board? Whew! I feel so much better now. /sarc
McKinnon has got to go. His comments about not attacking Obama were disgusting. McCain doesn’t need someone who buys all the Messiah crap on his staff.
Larry Bud was great with the Celtics.
Your post was spot on.
Now that Ken Mehlman is officially on board, I sincerely hope John McCain gets clobbered in November. I don’t even care any more.
But the majority of voters have their heads up their butts when it comes to security issues
A lot of people also think that security issues start at the border, my friend.
And a majority of McCain supporters have their heads up their butts about that, as well.
I have officially resigned from the Republican Party and have officially become an Independent.