Easy prediction: You’ll see more than one hack story about this open with a comparison between the state of his campaign and the state of “the war he’s supported so stubbornly” or something along those lines.
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.
You may remember Weaver from this depth charge back in March as the guy who allegedly pushed St. John to embrace the maverick within and formally join the Democrats. Presumably he was allowed to fall on his own sword. He and Nelson did the honors last week by announcing the disappointing 2Q fundraising totals and resulting layoffs of 50 aides. I wonder if they knew at the time that the axe had fallen on them too. Probably — with McCain on his way to Iraq, maybe he offered to withhold the announcement for a week knowing that the media would be more interested in what he saw in Baghdad once he got back and that would help bury this news. But if it’s the case that both of them already knew they were out, why did they announce last week that Nelson would be working without pay for the foreseeable future? Why bother with that detail when he’d be out within a week anyway?
Between this and McCain’s growing isolation on Iraq, you’d better get your campaign death pool picks in as soon as possible. Exit question: If Fred hires these two on, does it confirm that he really is just McCain with a southern accent?
Update: Marc Ambinder says Mark Salter, McCain’s chief of staff, is on his way out too — and neither he nor Nelson nor Weaver parted with J-Mac amicably.
Update: As Olby would say, “Resign.”