Republican candidates vie for Fox News chief Roger Ailes’ advice, ear

Republican presidential candidates--current, former and would-be--have been flocking to Fox News' offices to seek the advice of the network's chief executive.

According to Newsweek, which published a lengthy profile of Roger Ailes as part of an upcoming cover story on the Republican debates, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty have each sought out the chief of the top-rated cable network in recent months.

Before Perry announced his 2012 bid, he stopped by Ailes' midtown Manhattan office, and told him he was worried about being able to raise money. "Money will find you if people believe in your message," Ailes assured Perry, according to Newsweek. (Of Perry's presidential stature, Ailes said, "If he tells people he's gonna kick their ass, he might actually do it, which is useful for a president.")

Romney had dinner with Ailes recently, according to Kurtz:

When Romney himself sought out Ailes for a pasta dinner, the Fox chief was struck by a sense of humor rarely displayed in public. "You ought to be looser on the air," he said while dropping off the former Massachusetts governor at his hotel.

And three weeks after Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the race, he "showed up to ask for a gig at Fox," only to be rebuffed by Ailes, who didn't want to give Pawlenty, then on the verge of endorsing Romney, a job. "I'm not sure I want to sign you as a paid spokesman for Romney," Ailes said.

For GOP contenders, a meeting with Ailes sounds like a meeting with the Godfather, replete with a shoulder-touch of approval.

The reason Ailes is so popular with presidential hopefuls is two-fold: Not only does he direct the highest-rated network on cable television, but he also cut his teeth working for presidential campaigns, including Richard Nixon's in 1968.

While Ailes may have a direct line to most of the GOP contenders, they didn't appear to be on his mind at last week's Fox News 15th anniversary party in New York on the eve of the Google GOP debate. In fact, he didn't want to talk politics at all in his brief interview with The Cutline.

Asked for his assessment of President Obama's first term, he declined. "I don't want to get into politics," Ailes said, pausing. "I don't see our success tied to politics."

The only political candidate Ailes would talk about was Fox News contributor Sarah Palin, the former vice presidential contender who continues to tease the electorate about a 2012 presidential run. If she does, "she's out," Ailes told The Cutline. "Done, immediately."

He added: "We'd cover [her] like we would any other candidate--fair and balanced."