McCain Elevates Loeffler
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) plans to name former Rep. Tom Loeffler (R-Texas) as his consigliere for the 2008 presidential race, bringing a longtime friend and backer into the inner circle of the Arizona Senator's national campaign.
Loeffler will play a similar role to that of Don Evans during then Texas Gov. George W. Bush's 2000 campaign, managing McCain's interests across a variety of intersecting universes -- donors, lobbyists Capitol Hill and the executive branch.
"No one understands the critical elements of a campaign from a major finance and geopolitical level better than Tom Loeffler who's played on this stage in many, many campaigns," said John Weaver, McCain's chief political strategist.
Sources close to McCain argue that no successful Republican presidential bid in the last several decades has been without a Loeffler-like figure who is extremely close to the candidate but also enjoys entree into a variety of key Republican spheres. Evans is the most recent example but McCain insiders also cite Bob Mosbacher in George H.W. Bush's 1988 campaign.
Loeffler spent eight years in Congress -- from 1978 to 1986 -- representing the 21st district of Texas. During that time he served with McCain, who held a seat in the U.S. House from 1982 to 1986. The two men have known each other since the 1970s as both were mentored in politics by the late Texas Sen. John Tower. (Weaver also has long ties to Loeffler. He was the Congressman's deputy campaign manager in his unsuccessful 1986 gubernatorial campaign.)
After leaving Congress, Loeffler spent time in the Reagan Administration and then went on to found the Loeffler Group -- a lobbying shop. Loeffler has stayed actively involved in presidential politics, however, particularly on the fundraising end. In 2000 Loeffler served as then Texas Gov. George W. Bush's national finance co-chairman; four years later Loeffler was a "Super Ranger" for the Bush campaign -- meaning that he raised better than $500,000 for the president's re-election effort and the Republican National Committee.
While McCain is already benefiting from Loeffler's connections in the donor world, Loeffler's lobbying ties could be a source of some controversy for McCain. Loeffler has lobbied for Saudi Arabia for several years and has been richly rewarded. In the first six months of last year, The Loeffler Group collected more than $5 million in fees, according to a report in O'Dwyer's PR Services Report.
The elevation of Loeffler shows -- yet again -- that McCain is running as the establishment choice in the 2008 presidential race. Loeffler is an old guard establishment Republican who can (the McCain campaign hopes) vouch for him with contributors, lawmakers and other assorted wise men of the party.
Although recent national polls have shown McCain losing ground to former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, his campaign believes that in the end the sheer weight of McCain's support within the establishment of the Republican party will cripple the chances of people like Giuliani and former Gov. Mitt Romney (Mass.). They should know -- that's exactly what happened to McCain's upstart bid against George W. Bush in 2000.
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