Two senior campaign staff have just stepped down:
John McCain’s campaign manager and chief strategist are gone from their leadership roles, a major staff shake-up for the struggling Republican presidential candidate who is all but broke and trails in opinion polls.
In statements, Terry Nelson, a veteran of President Bush’s successful 2004 re-election effort, said he resigned as campaign manager effective immediately and John Weaver said he stepped down from his post of chief strategist on Tuesday. But other officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid discussing private conversations, said Nelson was fired.
Two officials said Rick Davis, a longtime aide to McCain, will take over the campaign.
“It has been a tremendous honor to serve Senator McCain and work on his campaign,” Nelson said. “I believe John McCain is the most experienced and prepared candidate to represent the Republican Party and defeat the Democratic nominee next year.”
Weaver said: “It has been my honor and a distinct privilege to serve someone who has always put our country first. I believe that most Americans will come to the conclusion that I have long known there is only one person equipped to serve as our nation’s chief executive and deal with the challenges we face, and that person is John McCain.”
This is the second major shake-up at the McCain campaign in less than a week. Days ago, the candidate laid off dozens of staffers after lackluster fundraising and excessive spending left him with just $2 million for his second presidential bid.
McCain issued this statement:
“Today, John Weaver and Terry Nelson offered their resignations from my presidential campaign, which I accepted with regret and deep gratitude for their dedication, hard work and friendship. Terry is a consummate professional, who has ably lead this campaign through a challenging political environment. John Weaver has been my friend and trusted counselor for many years and to whom I am greatly indebted. In the days and weeks ahead this campaign will move forward, and I will continue to address the issues of greatest concern to the American people, laying out my vision for a secure and prosperous America.”
This is going to be a tough row to hoe for Senator McCain.
Update: Rich Lowry has some insight into what happened:
Was just talking to a close and sympathetic observer of John McCain. He says of Weaver that in this campaign “everything he did was wrong.” He “wanted to re-build the Bush campaign of 2000,” but the idea that McCain would ever be that strong was a “flawed assessment.” Politically, at first the campaign wanted to “cleverly” woo the Right; then it wanted McCain “to be the independent again on the re-launch”; then it did immigration, not realizing that “you only get so many heresies.” The deepest irony was that Weaver “tried to do the Bush campaign just as Bush was falling out of favor” with the Right.
Update II: Jim Geraghty reports that now a total of five people have resigned from McCain’s campaign today.