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Murphy's Law for McCain and Romney

June 26, 2008

If nothing else, a Republican ticket of John McCain and Mitt Romney would offer Americans the potential for great theater. For openers, the fact that the two men essentially hate each other could make for great drama. And as his comments yesterday suggest, the return of their common ex-adviser Mike Murphy to the stage could bring much needed - if unintended - comedy all the way to November.
Murphy, who served as a campaign strategist for Senator McCain in 2000 and Governor Romney in 2002, reemerged on Wednesday on Dennis Miller's radio show to defend McCain adviser Charlie Black's belief that a new terrorist attack would b a "big advantage" for his candidate. Echoing an old Seinfeld episode about "field of vision," Murphy crudely attributed Black's inadvertent truth-telling to the presence of cleavage:

MURPHY: Well, he's an old friend of mine, so I'll defend him. I don't know what happened. I think there must have been tremendous reporter cleavage involved or something.
MILLER: hahahahahahaha
MURPHY: Charlie got off his focus, he's a good guy, he's apologized for it.

(That the Fortune reporter who interviewed Black was a man - editor David Whitford - speaks volumes to Murphy's lack of familiarity with the facts as well as decorum.)
As Mitt Romney learned the hard way in 2005, Mike Murphy may fancy himself a junior Karl Rove, but lacks the unshakeable message discipline to play the part. As Romney ramped up his bid for the GOP presidential race, Murphy in a rare moment of candor undermined Mitt's new brand of social conservativism on the issue where it mattered most: abortion. Murphy said of Romney's about-face in Massachusetts:

"He's been a pro-life Mormon faking it as a pro-choice friendly."

Of course, John McCain ultimately may pass over Mitt Romney as his choice for vice president in favor of another entertaining choice, like the exorcist Bobby Jindal, high-profile dating enthusiast Charlie Crist, or the sex-deprived Tim Pawlenty. But if McCain does tap Romney, the odds are good that Mike Murphy will provide comic relief throughout the campaign.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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