Tuesday, June 07, 2005

How do I get a resume to Mark McKinnon? -c/o mark.mckinnon@publicstrategies.org? Mr. McCain is someone that we like!

Bush consultant meets with McCain about presidential bid

The Dallas Morning News

WASHINGTON - (KRT) - Mark McKinnon, the Austin political consultant who oversaw the advertising for President Bush in the 2000 and 2004 campaigns, has committed to help Sen. John McCain in a second presidential bid.

McKinnon - one of the president's closest friends and confidants and a frequent mountain biking companion - met with the Arizona Republican over lunch this spring in the Senate dining room to discuss his support, said a GOP activist familiar with the meeting.

At this point, McCain, who lost to Bush in a bitter 2000 Republican primary, [THIS IS WHY I AM A REGISTERED REPUB!--EEK!] is in the early but unmistakable stages of laying the groundwork for another campaign. And McKinnon has indicated he would review his options, should Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice or the president's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, run in 2008.

The White House has sent word that Jeb Bush should be taken at his word, that he will not run. Rice, just four months into her new job, is not expected to seek the presidency, though some top Republicans have suggested she might be considered for vice president.

McKinnon, vice chairman of the Austin-based consulting firm Public Strategies Inc., said on Monday he's had "friendly conversations with Senator McCain" but would not discuss his commitment.

"I like the senator a lot, but it is too early to speculate on his intentions, as he has said himself, not to mention mine," McKinnon said in an e-mailed statement. "My political focus right now is on a successful second-term agenda for President Bush."

McCain's political strategist, John Weaver, said the senator is heartened by those "encouraging him to run," but that he has not yet decided whether he will.

"He's not out organizing," Weaver said, "and he's instructed us not to do that, either."

Nonetheless, the jockeying among Republicans for their party's presidential nomination is well under way.

In addition to McCain, likely contenders include Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee, Virginia Sen. George Allen, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

McKinnon's commitment to McCain, though, is among the earliest to any candidate, particularly among the cadre of senior advisers who guided the president's last two campaigns.

McKinnon became better acquainted with McCain during his campaigning for the president in 2004 and contributed $2,000 to the senator's re-election coffers last October.

A political maverick - he called his campaign advertising company Maverick Media - McKinnon first dabbled in politics as a Democrat and worked for the Texas gubernatorial campaign of Ann Richards, among other Democrats.

For the 2002 Senate race in Texas, McKinnon and his wife, Ann, contributed $4,000 to Democrat Ron Kirk against Republican John Cornyn. Later, the consultant apologized, saying the contributions had caused "some heartburn" for the Bush administration.
© 2005, The Dallas Morning News.
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Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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