NEWS: McCain gains new PR pro, just in time for positioning

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. 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.

John McCain.



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

possible.



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.



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