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McCain Hires Another Bush Insider

Continuing his raid on the top talent from President Bush's 2004 reelection bid, Sen. John McCain has signed Steve Schmidt as a senior adviser to his presidential campaign-in-waiting.

"It's a great honor to join Senator McCain's team," said Schmidt in a brief interview today.

John Weaver, McCain's top political strategist, called Schmidt "simply the best," adding: " If this were a baseball team, he'd bat in the number four slot."

Schmidt will play a leading role in message development and strategy if -- as is likely -- McCain transitions from his current exploratory effort to a full-fledged presidential race.

During the 2006 election cycle, Schmidt served as campaign manager for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's reelection bid, and prior to that was a member of the Bush political inner circle. He handled the strategic communications efforts during the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Samuel A. Alito Jr. and John G. Roberts Jr., and during the 2004 presidential election he was a member of the "breakfast club" -- a small gathering of top level Bush advisers who met regularly at the home of senior strategist Karl Rove. Schmidt will remain an adviser to Schwarzenegger.

Schmidt joins a McCain inner circle crowded with former Bush loyalists, including campaign manager Terry Nelson, communications director Brian Jones and media adviser Mark McKinnon. Even as McCain seeks to replicate the Bush model on a staff level, he also has spent considerable time courting establishment figures who chose Bush over him during the 2000 campaign.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 20, 2006; 2:18 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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