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Fred Thompson's Inner Circle

No candidate in the presidential race is the subject of more wild rumors than former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) Yesterday alone we heard of two senior political hires made by his campaign only to call the individuals involved to find out they weren't working for Thompson.

In an attempt to provide some clarity amid the Fred fanaticism, we have culled out Thompson's Inner Circle, the small group of individuals advising the former Senator as he moves inexorably toward a run for president.

A few notes before we start. The Thompson team lacks anyone from the upper echelons of George W. Bush's campaigns; former Republican National Committee Chairmen Ken Mehlman and Ed Gillespie as well as former White House political director Sara Taylor are the biggest free agents out there. One other obvious absence from Thompson's current team? A top-rate media consultant.

Here's a look at Thompson's Inner Circle:

*Jeri Thompson: No one has more say over Thompson's budding presidential campaign than his wife. Jeri Thompson has a substantial political resume of her own, having worked at the Senate Republican Conference as well as the Republican National Committee. She and Thompson met in 1996 and were married in 2002.

*Ken Rietz: A former deputy chairman at the Republican National Committee, Rietz has made his name over the last few decadeds in the public relations world. Rietz retired as CEO at Burson-Martsellar in March and is now the head of National Media Group -- a company that includes the media consulting firm handling former Gov. Mitt Romney's (R-Mass.) television ads.

*Tom Collamore: LIke Rietz, Collamore's ties are more with former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush than the current Administration. Collamore was staff secretary for then Vice President Bush and was part of his presidential transition team in 1988. Collamore spent the 1990s esconsed in the private sector, serving as vice president of corporate affairs at Altria.

*John/Jim McLaughlin: The brothers McLaughlin became free agents when Senator (and presidential candidate in waiting) George Allen (R-Va.) lost his re-election bid last fall. The polling duo has handled survey research for a number of big name clients including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.).

*Mark Corallo: The de facto spokesman of the campaign to be, Corallo has a long history in the Washington press world. Corallo served as the spokesman at the Justice Department before forming a crisis communications firm with Barbara Comstock -- a close adviser for former Gov. Mitt Romney's (R-Mass.) presidential campaign.

*Philip J. Martin: Here's what we know about Martin: he is a longtime friend of Thompson, is leading the candidate's early fundraising drive and is a successful businessman. Other than that, he's a mystery man.

*Bob Davis: Davis is the current chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party and a close associate of Thompson. Davis served as state director for Thompson for much of the latter man's time in the Senate and is one of the campaign's anchors in the Volunteer State.

By Chris Cillizza  |  June 12, 2007; 7:20 AM ET
Categories:  Inner Circle  
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