McCain aide is inspired . . . to resign

So that's what buddies are for?

Mark McKinnon, John McCain's media strategist and a member of the close-knit circle of five top advisors to the Republican presidential candidate, says he plans to be the Arizona senator's "No. 1 fan and friend." But he's quitting his job with the campaign within a few weeks.

In a March interview with The Times, McKinnon said that though he disagreed with Democratic contender Barack Obama on "very important issues," he admired Obama's "strong character."

And McKinnon said he had let the McCain campaign know when he signed on that he would feel uncomfortable "being as aggressive as you have to be in a presidential campaign" against Obama, who now appears to be closing in on the Democratic nomination.

McKinnon said in an e-mail Tuesday that he still would be "informally advising" the McCain campaign and "helping out in ex officio capacity." At the same time, he will be "off the ad team."

"I think it's in the spirit of John McCain to keep your word," he said.

-- Maeve Reston

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