Davenport native is now McCain's closest advisor
I belatedly got around to reading a recent Newsweek magazine and came upon a piece by Howard Fineman about John McCain's closest advisor, Mark Salter. Salter's name is familiar to me as the source of several particularly venomous and dishonest statements which attack and attempt to demean Barack Obama.
Much chatter on blogs of both political leanings have suggested that Salter would be McCain's Cheney, running the country while Grandpa gets in his naps.
The piece reveals that no one is closer to McCain than Salter, except perhaps his wife, having devoted two decades to McCain's career, so it was a bit of a shock to find that Salter was born and raised right here in the Quads, a fact that has apparently has escaped the local press.
Mark Salter calls himself a "friend" to the presumptive GOP nominee, but that doesn't do their relationship justice. He's McCain's speechwriter, former Senate chief of staff, coauthor, biographer and closest adviser; amid the campaign's recent internal tensions, Salter's place at McCain's side has never been questioned. ("The only person closer to McCain is his wife," says former senator Warren Rudman, a longtime friend to both men.) McCain and Salter are stylistically similar and share a world view: they like to operate in intimate settings, with a loyal band of brothers, a clear enemy in sight and an almost joyful fatalism in the face of long odds. Which is a good thing, since they're up against an opponent, Barack Obama, who so far seems more deft, organized, popular and blessed by destiny.
Salter, 53, comes by his love of grit and combat honestly. He grew up in modest circumstances in Davenport, Iowa, the son of a traveling salesman and a teacher. His father had been an Army hero in Korea. Educated in Roman Catholic parochial schools, Salter became rebellious (a streak shared as a youth by the man who would become his boss). He skipped college to work on Iowa railroads and sing in a rock band. After four years, his love of literature and history drew him to local night-school classes and then to Georgetown University. He gravitated to politics and got a job writing speeches for the iciest of cold-war warriors, U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick. At the 1988 GOP convention in New Orleans, a chance meeting with Torie Clarke, McCain's press secretary at the time, turned into a late-night drinking trip to a Cajun juke joint in a dicey part of town. She invited him to write speeches for McCain.
Quite an impressive resume, to be sure. If only he hadn't ended up on the wrong side of history this time around. But hey, even if McCain tanks, there's still that summer home Salter was able to buy on the coast of Maine with the book royalties from writing McCain's popular autobiography, "Faith of My Fathers", for which he got an unusual 50/50 split of the profits.
The Wall Street Journal has a piece here on Salter's attack-dog role in the campaign and describes Salter thusly:
McCain Chief of Staff Mark Salter has been with the candidate the longest of the five senior advisers on the campaign. He has been the senator's speechwriter, top adviser and confidant for two decades. He co-authored Sen. McCain's two memoirs, and is the chief creator, shaper and enforcer of the politician's image.
Salter (left) on campaign plane with McCain and super-lobbyist and McCain campaign honcho Charlie Black (unless McCain has dropped Black since then... can't remember.)
Photo below from Newsweek. Salter is on the left. Below that is shot from New York Times. (click photos to enlarge)
Does anyone know Mark Salter or remember him from his days in the Quads? This Jake Tapper piece in Salon reveals that his father's name was Peter Salter.