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GOP strategist Mike Murphy chooses NBC over rejoining McCain camp

July 8, 2008 |  6:37 pm

Mike Murphy, the garrulous Republican political strategist who helped Sen. John McCain dump the Karl Rove-led George W. Bush candidacy on its butt in the 2000 New Hampshire primary, is joining NBC News in an expanded role as political pundit.

Republican political strategist Mike Murphy turns down a return to the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain in favor of an expanded commentator's role at NBC News

In the past 48 hours Murphy, who remains a close confidante of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has been the subject of much speculation in the East Coast press.

The New York Times' columnist Bill Kristol indicated Monday that Murphy would soon join the rebuilt McCain campaign team with newcomers Steve Schmidt and Mike DuHaime. Not everyone in the McCain camp would be joyful over Murphy's addition.

But just now, Murphy told The Times' Dan Morain, that ain't gonna happen. Instead, Murphy said he intended to head to NBC News where he will expand his role as a political pundit and commentator on this year's dramatic unfolding general election campaign.

He'll appear on the  network's "Nightly News" and "Meet the Press" as well as on several of NBC’s cable shows.

“I don’t intend to join the campaign,” Murphy said, adding that further details would be announced in coming days.

Murphy was McCain’s top strategist in his 2000 campaign, which faded in South Carolina after the dramatic 19-point upset of the Texas governor in the Granite State.

In conversations, McCain has made clear that he remains fond of Murphy. Murphy was also top campaign strategist to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in his 2002 gubernatorial contest.

His lasting friendship with both McCain and Romney caused the 46-year-old Murphy to sit out this election cycle's Republican primary contests.

In addition to his punditry for NBC, Murphy heads an influential lobby-consulting firm, Navigators, with offices in Washington, Sacramento and elsewhere. He also is involved in Hollywood projects.

--Andrew Malcolm

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