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Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Kissinger, several prominent New Yorkers get behind McCain
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger will co-chair Sen. John McCain's finance efforts in New York should the Arizona Republican decide to run for president, McCain's exploratory committee announced Tuesday.

Kissinger will be joined by Pete Peterson -- a former U.S. ambassador to Vietnam and U.S. Congressman -- and John Whitehead -- a former Goldman Sachs chair and deputy secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan.

McCain's committee also released the names of a 57- member team that will lead fundraising efforts in the tri-state area. The list is comprised of several prominent New Yorkers, including Woody Johnson -- the owner of the New York Jets.

Prominent New York Lawyer Edward Cox will also sit on the committee. Cox sought to challenge Sen. Hillary Clinton for her New York Senate seat, but he dropped out before the GOP primary election.

"I am honored to have the support of so many talented and experienced professionals," McCain said in a statement. "New York is the heart of the financial world, and this team's work on behalf of my exploratory committee will be indispensable as we move forward."

John Weaver, a senior aide to McCain, said the newly assembled finance team puts the Arizona Republican in a position to compete with Sen. Hillary Clinton's, D-New York, vast fundraising network.

"It shows Senator McCain has put together the kind of national financial network that is required to go toe to toe with Hillary Clinton," Weaver said.

McCain's powerful New York fundraising team is particularly significant given former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani is his potential rival for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination.

The release of McCain's New York fundraising committee list comes on the same day Giuliani is set to host the first fundraiser for his exploratory committee, raising questions McCain is trying to upstage the former New York Mayor.

"We are going to run an aggressive campaign. We are not going to cede any territory," Weaver said. "We are going to go after every donor, every vote."

Sunny Mindel, spokesman for Giuliani, would not comment on McCain's announcement.

-- CNN's Mary Snow and Alexander Mooney
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