John McCain's senior campaign strategist Steve Schmidt, who has become a central figure in the Republican Party, has drawn comparisons to Karl Rove, whom he worked with beginning around 2004.
But as Ana Marie Cox reported this week, those comparisons can be misleading. While Rove has hewed to the far right of his party over the course of his career, Schmidt has spent time working with candidates closer to the center, among them Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lamar Alexander and Matt Fong. While Schmidt was Fong's spokesman, the candidate signed a pledge negotiated with the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay Republican group, to protect certain rights for gays and lesbians.
"This is not something a Rove protege would have done," Cox wrote. "Rove's career has been based on a very different approach to politics, driven more by polls and a tightly controlled narrative designed specifically to appeal to social conservatives."
Now comes news that on the day that McCain was giving his GOP nomination acceptance speech before the Republican base in St. Paul, Schmidt met with the Log Cabin Republicans.
"I just wanted to take a second to come by and pay my respect and the campaign's respect to your organization and to your group," Schmidt told the group, according to The Advocate. "Your organization is an important one in the fabric of our party."
As The Advocate notes, "This convention marks the first in history that Log Cabin Republicans, an LGBT rights organization, have been fully credentialed official guests of the GOP host committee." Sen. Alren Specter, RNC treasurer Tim Morgan, and McCain political director Mike DuHaime also addressed the group this week.