WASHINGTON, DC: One presidential candidate’s loss became another’s gain last week when politico Mike Murphy moved over to the team of Sen. John McCain.
WASHINGTON, DC: One presidential candidate’s loss became another’s
gain last week when politico Mike Murphy moved over to the team of Sen.
Murphy, who served as a strategist and media producer for the 1996 GOP
presidential campaign of former Tennessee governor Lamar Alexander, had
been advising both McCain and Alexander this year. Alexander’s campaign,
however, failed to take off, and he left the race after posting a poor
showing in the Iowa straw poll.
While Alexander stumbled badly in Iowa, Murphy had pressed McCain to
avoid participating in the straw poll. Such a move made sense, given
that McCain is on record as opposing the ethanol subsidies favored by
many Iowa farmers.
While George W. Bush is far ahead in most GOP presidential polls, McCain
is currently riding a PR bounce from the publication of Faith of My
Fathers, which details his family’s tradition of military service and
his own experience in a North Vietnam POW camp.
But a recent National Review cover story about McCain’s reliance on
character issues suggests that he will soon be pressed by rivals about
his positions on campaign finance reform and abortion. McCain’s ability
to articulate his position on these hot-button issues - he breaks with
hard-line GOP-ers on both - will determine the staying power of his
momentum. Hence effective PR is crucial to the McCain candidacy.
Murphy’s addition to an already crowded communications team, according
to several onlookers, poses potential ego problems. While media
consultant Greg Stevens, pollster Bill McInturff and manager Rick Davis
are all highly regarded, Murphy is likely to make his presence known
early and often.
Not being paid clearly provides Murphy with greater latitude to speak
his mind. ’It’s one of those things that’s disconcerting to the paid
media consultants,’ said a GOP pro. ’In the back of their minds, they
wonder why he’s there.’
McCain is said to thrive on the nuts and bolts of politics, and likes
consulting with as many advisors as possible. From that standpoint, a
greater role for Murphy - whether formal or informal - seems
McCain has made another addition to his PR team since the beginning of
the month, hiring Todd Harris as a deputy communications director.
Harris has served as the press secretary for the now-disbanded
presidential campaign of Rep. John Kasich as well as press secretary for
the National Republican Congressional Committee.