Political strategist Steve Schmidt joins Edelman

Political strategist Steve Schmidt, who handled U.S. Sen. John McCain’s presidential run and played a pivotal communications role in the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, is joining the Edelman public relations firm.

Schmidt has been at Mercury Public Affairs in Sacramento, a fim with with close ties to the Schwarzenegger administration. He starts his new job with Edelman on Dec. 1, after the November elections, although he will be consulting with Edelman before then. In 2006, Schmidt served as Schwarzenegger’s campaign campaign manager.

His role at Edelman — his title is vice chairman of public affairs — is likely to be more corporate than political, said Steve Telliano of Edelman’s Sacramento office.

“It’s more corporate communication. Edelman, by and large, doesn’t do political campaign work, but if that’s what Steve wants to do, we’ll decide that as we go along,” he said.

Schmidt will serve as a senior strategic counsellor to Edelman on a global basis, the company said. He also will serve as an advisor to Edelman’s $60 million U.S. Public Affairs practice, which includes a 170-member staff handling clients that include API, Business Roundtable, Monsanto, Oregon Bridge Delivery Partners, and Pfizer.

Based in Sacramento, Schmidt will report to Matthew Harrington, President and CEO of Edelman U.S.

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