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Giuliani's Media Team

One of the final pieces of Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign has fallen into place as the former New York City Mayor has settled on his team of media consultants, a group led by Scott Howell and Company -- one of the most successful and controversial media firms in the business.

Heath Thompson, a partner in the firm, will lead the effort. Thompson, widely seen as a rising star in the media consulting world, has extensive experience in South Carolina and should help Giuliani's effort in that most crucial of early primary states. BrabenderCox and Chris Mottola and Associates are also members of the team charged with shaping Giuliani's image in places like Iowa, New Hampshire and Florida. Howell's firm was involved in a national controversy over an ad they created in the Tennessee Senate race that some called racist.

"This team brings together diverse talents and years of invaluable media expertise to the campaign's overall communications effort," said Giuliani director of startegy Brent Seaborn.

Howell's firm has established itself as a hot commodity over the last several cycles. In 2002, Howell handled the television strategy for Sens. Jim Talent (Mo.), Norm Coleman (Minn.) and Saxby Chambliss (Ga.). Two years later Howell was central to the election of Sens. John Thune (S.D.) and Jim DeMint (S.C.).

Last cycle was far less kind to Howell's firm -- as it was to almost every Republican political professional -- as his Senate candidates in Missouri, Michigan and Minnesota were all defeated. But, it was a race that Howell helped win in 2006 where he drew the most attention and criticism.

In the Tennesssee open seat race between former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker (R) and Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D) Howell was handling the issue advertising for the Republican National Committee. As a part of that race, Howell produced this ad, which featured -- among other characters -- a scantily clad white woman urging Ford to "call her."

Democrats called the ad blatantly racist; Republicans defended it as a satirical look at Ford's record in Congress. Regardless of the intent, the ad became hugely controversial and a rallying point for Democrats not just in Tennessee but nationwide as well.

John Brabender and Chris Mottola are also well known names in the world of Republican consulting. Brabender was Sen. Rick Santorum's (R-Pa.) lead media adviser and also handled the television for Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.). Mottola was the lead consultant in Gov. George Pataki's (R-N.Y.) 2002 re-election race. He has also done work for Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) and former Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.).

The additions of Thompson, Howell, Brabender and Mottola complete Giuliani's consulting team with Dave Sackett and Ed Goeas of the Tarrance Group handling the bulk of the survey research work on the campaign.

Giuliani's consultant team faces a two-pronged task; first, sell a New Yorker to the midwest (Iowa) and south (South Carolina) and second convince conservative voters that Giuliani, who is pro abortion rights, is one of them. To date, Giuliani has made that case relatively well but is sure to face more scrutiny in the coming months from both his rivals for the nomination and the media.

By Chris Cillizza  |  August 23, 2007; 12:06 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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