McCain Cornering Guru Market
John Broder notes in today’s NYT that John McCain is assembling the most impressive team of expert advisors and organizers of the putative 2008 Republican presidential wannabes.
Senator John McCain is locking up a cast of top-shelf Republican strategists, policy experts, fund-raisers and donors, in a methodical effort to build a 2008 presidential campaign machine, drawing supporters of President Bush despite the sometimes rocky history between the two men.
His still-informal network includes Richard L. Armitage, the former deputy secretary of state; John A. Thain, chief executive of the New York Stock Exchange; and Sig Rogich, who directed the advertising for the 1988 and 1992 presidential campaigns of Mr. Bush’s father. He is reaching out to Christian conservatives, who helped sink his 2000 presidential bid, by enlisting the aid of figures like Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. of Utah and former Senator Dan Coats of Indiana, both of whom have strong evangelical followings. His growing kitchen cabinet spans an array of issues and backgrounds, and includes James Jay Baker, a former lobbyist for the National Rifle Association; Niall Ferguson, a historian at Harvard; and Barry McCaffrey, who was the drug czar under President Bill Clinton.
This leads to inevitable talk about McCain’s frontrunner status and the GOP nominating electorate’s penchant for turning to the guy whose “turn” it is.
Dan Drezner wonders “Who’s going to McCain McCain?” That is, “[W]ho’s going to play the role of insurgent outsider to McCain’s front-runner?” He invites readers to chime in with suggestions and points to Doug Mankiw‘s observation that only McCain and Rudy Giuliani have garnered any significant momentum on TradeSports and other online political speculation markets.
Indeed, Broder notes that Giuliani seems to be trying to keep pace with McCain:
There is a whiff of opportunism among those signing on early with Mr. McCain as loyalties begin to migrate from the president to those who would succeed him, and Mr. McCain’s potential rivals for the Republican nomination are all scrambling to keep up with him in the hunt for money, expertise and ideological credentials. Rudolph W. Giuliani’s political action committee signed Anne Dickerson, who ran Mr. Bush’s Pioneer and Ranger fund-raiser program. Senator George Allen of Virginia has lined up Ed Gillespie, the former chairman of the Republican Party and a Bush backer; Mary Matalin, a close adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and to the first President Bush; and Frank J. Donatelli, a consultant and former Reagan aide. And Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts is working with Ron Kaufman, who was a political adviser to the first President Bush and a major fund-raiser for the current president.
McCain and Giuliani are the only two of the bunch that have any substantial name recognition at the national level, so it’s not surprising that they’re leading the pack this far out. Allen and Romney have surrounded themselves with top notch folks as well but they’re not going to get too many commitments until they can demonstrate that they have a legitimate shot at emerging as credible contenders.