Michael Isikoff reports that the McCain campaign “has hastily assembled a team of former Bush White House aides to tutor the vice-presidential candidate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, on foreign-policy issues, to write her speeches and to begin preparing her for her all-important Oct. 2 debate against Sen. Joe Biden.”
Leading this team is Steve Biegun, who has been hired as chief foreign-policy adviser to Gov. Palin. Last Friday, “Biegun flew to St. Paul and, together with McCain’s foreign-policy guru Randy Schuenemann, began briefings for Palin on national-security issues — an area where her resume is conspicuously thin.”
A little background on Steve Biegun:
- In 2001, Biegun was appointed Executive Secretary of the National Security Council by President Bush.
- In 2003 Biegun joined the staff of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist as national security adviser.
- In 2004, Biegun was hired by Ford Motor Co. as part of Ford’s effort to “rev up its Washington government affairs operation.” Biegun is now on leave from Ford to work for McCain.
Notably, from 1992 to 1994, Biegun served as the Resident Director in the Russian Federation for the International Republican Institute, a democracy-promoting organization for which McCain has served as chairman since 1993.
In July, the New York Times reported that “an examination of [McCain's] leadership of the Republican institute — one of the least-chronicled aspects of his political life — reveals an organization in many ways at odds with the political outsider image that has become a touchstone of the McCain campaign for president”:
[The IRI is] something of a revolving door for lobbyists and out-of-power Republicans that offers big donors a way of helping both the party and the institute’s chairman, who is the second sitting member of Congress — and now candidate for president — ever to head one of the democracy groups.
Operating without the sort of limits placed on campaign fund-raising, the institute under Mr. McCain has solicited millions of dollars for its operations from some 560 defense contractors, lobbying firms, oil companies and other corporations, many with issues before Senate committees Mr. McCain was on.
As to the sort of foreign policy ideology with which Biegun will be inculcating Palin, Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation told Isikoff that Biegun “will turn [Palin] into an advocate of Cheneyism and Cheney’s view of national-security issues.”