The stalwart conservatives who populate ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani's media team are a telling indication that a Giuliani nomination looks more likely -- and is more acceptable -- to the Republican Party elite than ever before.
When Giuliani entered the race in March, it's probably safe to assume that not a single member of his team would have felt comfortable joining the campaign of a pro-choice, pro-gay rights cultural liberal from New York City.
But priorities have shifted. Giuliani has withstood a fairly intense round of criticism. He is messaging on national security and economic growth. John McCain's prospects have fallen. Fred Thompson is a question mark.
From the standpoint of these media company's bottom lines, there is now little risk in being associated with the Giuliani brand -- unless, of course, someone else, like Mitt Romney wins the nomination and is in a mood to punish. (Romney doesn't usually bear grudges.)
Heath Thompson will serve as the lead creative consultant. He was regional political during the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign and ran the Bush effort in South Carolina in 2000. He's now a partner with Scott Howell and Co. He will double as a lead Giuliani strategist in South Carolina. His former partner in SC, Terry Sullivan, is running Romney's campaign there.
Scott Howell's firm has Bush-Cheney campaign experience and is the media consultant of record for many in-cycle incumbents throughout the south and midwest. It was his firm, in 2006, that produced the controversial television ad about Harold Ford, Jr's dating life. Howell also worked for George Allen in '06. He's handling media duties for Norm Coleman's re-election in Minnesota.
Chris Mottola's former clients have included Sen. Arlen Specter and ex-NYC governor George Pataki. He's been a close adviser to Pataki for years.
John Brabender was chief consultant to Rick Santorum in his 2006 Senate race and has worked for just about every major conservative politician in the northeast. His firm is BrabenderCox, about which my colleague Josh Green wrote last year.
Giuliani's media buyer will be Patti Heck of Crossroads Media.
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