Edwards Adds Staff, Reshuffles Roles

The Associated Press
Thursday, July 5, 2007; 7:15 PM

NEW YORK -- John Edwards is reshuffling the ranks of his top staff, adding two prominent Democratic operatives as senior advisers and shifting some responsibilities from campaign manager David Bonior.

Paul Blank and Chris Kofinis, leaders of the labor-backed anti-Wal-Mart effort "Wake Up Wal-Mart," were expected to join the Edwards campaign as early as next week. Blank would take over day-to-day campaign operations. Kofinis would serve as communications director.

The deal was not yet final but was expected to be completed in the next few days, advisers said.

Blank was political director for Howard Dean's 2004 presidential effort. He is close to former Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi, who is now serving as a senior adviser to the Edwards effort.

Bonior, a former Michigan congressman, would retain the title of campaign manager but step up his role as public spokesman for the campaign. He also is expected to travel extensively with Edwards.

The changes come after a disappointing fundraising quarter for Edwards and some communications challenges, including the continued fallout over his $400 haircuts and connection to a New York-based hedge fund.

Edwards raised just over $9 million from April through June, much less than rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

Top Edwards strategist Jonathan Prince said staff changes reflected the campaign's continued growth and should not be taken as a sign that anything was amiss.

Bonior, Prince said, remained in charge of the campaign, "but as it heats up he's going spend more and more time on the road. That means we are looking to have additional people in the office to manage the organization as it grows."

The changes were first reported by Marc Ambinder on his blog.

Edwards campaigned in Cleveland, telling a union gathering that millions of manufacturing jobs can result from collaboration between blue-collar industries and environmental projects.

"The Blue Green Alliance really can create 1 million, 2 million new manufacturing jobs to replace some of the jobs that have been lost," Edwards told about 600 political activists from the United Steelworkers of America union at a conference on reviving U.S. manufacturing.

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