There's been a lot of political buzz about Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's 2008 bid for the Republican presidential nomination, and now I know why: In one swoop, his Commonwealth PAC this week hired what could be the A-team of political consultants.
"Mitt Romney means business," says media guru Alex Castellanos. The proof: Romney picked one of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's longtime advisers, Sally Bradshaw, who has worked for both President Bushes and was Jeb Bush's chief of staff for a while. What does her hiring mean?
"Where Sally Bradshaw goes, a lot of Jeb Bush's people will follow," says Castellanos, of National Media Inc. And, of course, unlike his brother, Jeb is still very popular.
Next: Barbara Comstock joins as a political consultant.
"She's the best-kept secret in Washington. She's done more than anyone to get George Bush elected," says Castellanos. She has deep roots in the conservative movement, worked at Justice, and has a long history of dogging Democrats, as anybody who remembers the Clinton Whitewater scandal will remember. What's more, she's got good ties to Washington journalists.
Also: Noam Neusner comes on to help write speeches and craft Romney's public image. Neusner left U.S. News to help write Bush economic speeches long ago. But his influence spread, and he eventually became the administration's Jewish outreach coordinator and budget communications czar before leaving to start his own consulting business.
Insiders said the moves propel Romney to the top tier with Sen. John McCain in the presidential bid and suggest that he's the comer in the race. Technically, the trio were hired on to help Romney's PAC influence the upcoming midterm elections, but I bet that they really came on to build up his image, platform, and national stature moving into 2007, when the nomination battle really begins.