Strategic Perception, Inc.

Washington Post’s Fix Blog:
McCain Expands Campaign Media Team

Chris Cillizza

Presumptive GOP nominee John McCain is vastly expanding his campaign media team -- bringing in a number of the leading consultants as he prepares for the general election.

The media operation, which will be known as Foxhole Productions, is adding three media consultants -- Fred Davis, Chris Mottola and Cesar Martinez to the original group of Mark McKinnon, Mike Hudome, Justin Germany and Mark Salter.

Davis is perhaps the biggest name of the recent additions, having worked for McCain early in the cycle before leaving the effort in late July when the Arizona senator essentially ran out of money. Davis is extremely well-regarded in Republican circles, running a boutique media consulting firm with just a few clients every election. In 2006, he helped Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Calif.) and Sonny Perdue (Ga.) win their reelection races and handled the media for Sen. Bob Corker's (Tenn.) narrow victory in the Volunteer State.

Mottola was part of the media team for Rudy Giuliani's failed presidential bid. He has done considerable work in House and Senate races as well, including the 2002 reelection race of Gov. George Pataki (N.Y.) as well as the issue advertising for the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the 2006 Virginia Senate race.

Martinez is a director and producer based out of Texas who worked for the Bush-Cheney team in both the 2000 and 2004 campaigns.

In addition to the core group of media consultants that comprise Foxhole Productions, a separate group of advisers -- known as the McCain Ad Council -- will serve as outside thinkers and strategists to the media effort.

That group is chaired by Las Vegas mover and shaker Sig Rogich and Texas-based consultant Lionel Sosa. The MAC -- as McCain insiders refer to the Council -- includes Jim Farwell of the Farwell Group, Kathy Sosa, Paul Brabender of BrabenderCox, Paul Wilson of Wilson Grand Communications, Jim Innocenzi of Sandler-Innocenzi, Bob Wickers of Dresner, Wickers & Associates, John Gautier, Alex Castellanos of National Media, Myra Adams, Harold Kaplan (a copy-writer who worked with the Bush team in 2000 and 2004) and Richard Price, a senior marketing and advertising official with CVS.

Of that group, Brabender worked with Mottola on the presidential campaign of Giuliani while Castellanos was intimately involved in the ad-making and strategy for Mitt Romney's campaign. Wickers's firm handled all of the polling and media for Mike Huckabee in his recently ended bid for the GOP nomination.

Bringing in consultants previously affiliated with other campaigns serves two purposes. First and most importantly, it shows that McCain won't hold grudges against those who weren't with him from day one now that everyone is seeking to push the rock in the same direction. Second, it reveals a willingness to go outside of a VERY small core of advisers -- a necessary growth process as McCain eases into the role of party nominee.

Of the expanded Foxhole Productions group, McKinnon said, "We've pulled together some of the best and brightest creative minds in the business and a structure we believe will help ensure a first-class media effort to elect John McCain president."

Watch for continued growth in the ranks of McCain's campaign staff at the national level and in key battleground states in the weeks to come. Some Republicans are already grumbling that McCain is moving too slowly to put the requisite parts in place. These moves should quiet that complaining for now, but the burden is still on McCain to grow his campaign (and grow it quickly) over the next month.