Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has quietly reactivated his political action committee. The potential 2008 presidential candidate filed papers July 15 re-creating his Straight Talk America PAC, a move that looks very much like a prelude to another run for the White House.
"I would assume it's starting up for '08," said PoliticalMoneyLine co-founder Kent Cooper, whose watchdog group alerted reporters to the filing.
Donors can give as much as $5,000 per year to such accounts, which politicians often use to pay for traveling around the country, and also sounding out voters, or to spread money around to their colleagues. McCain's previous PAC was formed during the 2000 election and was folded in 2003.
"He's inundated with requests to campaign on behalf of candidates at all levels of the ballot and from state and local committees, and so we're setting up the proper process to do that," said John Weaver, one of McCain's senior advisers. "I anticipate that the senator will be on the road quite a bit in the fall and next year, and this is the right vehicle in which to do that."
But isn't this just a precursor to a presidential bid? "There's nothing I can tell you that would dissuade you of that, is there?" Weaver said. "I'm not even going to try."
But He's Definitely Not Running -- Sorta, Maybe
Everything seemed clear on Monday, when Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) answered a question posed by a reader on washingtonpost.com by announcing that his "intention is not to run" for president in 2008.
But then Santorum decided that answer had been a little too clear for his liking. At a breakfast meeting with reporters on Wednesday, he sought to de-clarify things a bit. Santorum said he did not want to imply that "no intention" means no chance: "The reason I leave this little window open is because I have no idea what's going to happen between now and 31/2 years from now."
On CNN yesterday, interviewer Ed Henry suggested that Santorum is leaving the door open, which led to a somewhat inconclusive discussion on the meaning of "open."
"Well, I wouldn't say the door's -- I mean, okay, it's not locked and bolted, but the door itself is closed," Santorum stammered. "It's just not locked."
"But it might be opened?" Henry asked.
"Yes, well . . .," Santorum explained, sort of, according to a CNN transcript.
Republicans Targeting Byrd for 2006
The National Republican Senatorial Committee plans to inaugurate its 2006 advertising campaign today with a West Virginia spot accusing Democratic Sen. Robert C. Byrd, who is up for reelection next year, of having grown too liberal for the Mountain State.
"We all agree he's changed," the ad said. "But is it good for West Virginia?"
Republicans said they believe they have a shot at finally knocking off the longtime senator, pointing out that President Bush twice won the state, the last time by 13 percentage points. The GOP has not settled on a candidate but is hoping that Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) will run.
Byrd, 87, hasn't taken less than 60 percent of the vote since Dwight D. Eisenhower was in office. Byrd has not announced whether he will run for what would be his ninth term, but spokesman Tom Gavin said the lawmaker has "every intention" of seeking reelection.