Democratic oppo researchers should clip Maeve Reston’s La Times article “McCain’s team forged loyalty in collapse,” a revealing profile of the inner circle of Team McCain. Reston’s article focuses on “The Sedona Five,” key McCain insiders Rick Davis, Mark Salter, Charles Black, Steve Schmidt and Mark McKinnon, who shaped and implemented McCain’s nomination-winning strategy at a time when most pundits believed he was toast. Reston provides this succinct description of the group:
Davis, a calm and efficient lobbyist who impressed everyone with his budgeting skills, manned the northern Virginia headquarters. Salter, 53, who in his younger days spent four years as an Iowa spiker laying railroad tracks before becoming McCain’s speechwriter, was most often at McCain’s side.
Black, a lobbyist who initially signed on as debate coach, was drafted onto the Straight Talk Express bus by McCain as his tactician and, at 60, as the “wise elder of the group.” Schmidt, 37, a strategist who ran the 2004 Bush campaign war room, and McKinnon, a one-time songwriter who served as media strategist for President Bush’s White House campaigns, parachuted in from their respective bases in California and Austin.
Reston rolls out an illuminating account of McCain’s comeback and image-tweaking, as told from the inside. Her article also has some interesting detail about the McCain campaign’s ad-buying strategy and McCain’s trust of the ‘Sedonas,’ apparently well-placed.