['07 rank – Not ranked]
Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) campaign was considered quixotic when Steve Schmidt joined in 2006. It was floundering when he took over communications and strategy this July. Schmidt placed the focus back on McCain's perceived strengths: bipartisanship and his maverick status. He helped bolster attacks on Sen. Barack Obama's (D-IL) inexperience and stance on the Iraq surge. Schmidt's track record includes being part of Karl Rove's reputed "breakfast club," which planned strategy for President Bush's 2004 re-election. He also helped Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) get re-elected in 2006.