McCain's Lead Dog Isn't Afraid to Bark, or Bite

Mark Salter rides the media hard, thinks he knows where Obama is soft
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2008 6:08 PM CDT
Senior advisor Mark Salter, left.   (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
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(Newser) – Mark Salter has the honor of being John McCain’s “chief creator, shaper and enforcer,” the Wall Street Journal reports of a man who rides the press corps hard and thinks he knows Barack Obama’s soft spots. A McCain confidant of two decades, the goateed, chain-smoking Salter has co-written five books with the senator and is an often strident defender of his boss.

Salter, 53, says he’ll argue McCain's as much a “change candidate” as Obama is, will build distance with President Bush on Hurricane Katrina and climate change, and will slay Obama on trade and “empty optimism.” The Journal also gets inside Salter’s feuds with the media and with his rival’s aides—in which the adviser is described as “biting,” and his rapid-response tactics deemed “bizarre rants.”