McCain Loses More Staff

The Associated Press
Monday, July 16, 2007; 6:21 PM

WASHINGTON -- John McCain's top communications aides and several staffers in Iowa and South Carolina quit on Monday, the latest departures to hit the Republican as he struggles to rebound from financial and political woes.

Brian Jones, McCain's communications director, and his two deputies, Matt David and Danny Diaz, stepped down but plan to stay on through the week. Two others in the communications shop at the campaign headquarters also are leaving, as are two staffers apiece in Iowa and South Carolina.

Jill Hazelbaker, McCain's current New Hampshire communications director, is expected to take over for Jones and head up a slimmed-down media operation.

The press office moves were all but certain following the departures last week of campaign manager Terry Nelson and chief strategist John Weaver; several of those in the communications office, including Jones, had ties to Nelson.

"This is not an acrimonious departure," Jones said.

In Iowa, Tim Miller, his state communications director, and Marlys Popma, the Iowa coalitions director who was serving as a link to the state's influential religious conservative community, also announced their resignations. And, in South Carolina, Adam Temple, a spokesman for the candidate, and Josh Robinson, the state field director, also stepped down.

"The leadership team that I came to work for is no longer leading this campaign," Temple said.

Also Monday, Iowa Republican Party officials said they had been told McCain was closing his campaign in the state. But officials at McCain's campaign headquarters in suburban Washington disputed that, saying the Iowa headquarters remains open and the senator plans to campaign in Iowa this weekend.

In suburban Des Moines, a handful of staffers milled about McCain's Iowa headquarters but they said no one was authorized to issue statements.

In Los Angeles on Monday, McCain met with about 30 potential fund-raisers, many of them private-equity specialists.

"We're trying to find some warm bodies to raise money," said Cassandra L. Vandenberg, McCain's finance chief in California. McCain was courting them to join his finance committee, currently a group of between 80 and 90 people who help him pull in donations, she said.

At the meeting, McCain faced many questions about his spending rate and about his support for President Bush's Iraq war strategy, Vandenberg said.

Later, in Santa Clara, Calif., McCain addressed a not-quite-full hotel ballroom gathering of the Churchill Club, a public-affairs and technology forum. The moderator questioned him about the health of his campaign, though the audience members did not.

"We structured the camapign in too large a fashion and in too bureaucratic a fashion," McCain said. "And we raised pretty good amounts of money, but we spent too much. It's not too much more complicated than that. I'm sure people in this room have seen enterprises that made the same mistakes. We fixed the mistakes, we're movin' on and we will have the kind of campaign that suceeds."

On Friday in New Hampshire, McCain said he would compete aggressively in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, despite the turmoil that's roiling his campaign.

McCain's second presidential bid has experienced enormous upheaval in the past two weeks as he accepted the resignations of Nelson and Weaver and watched other senior staffers leave as well; elevated Rick Davis to campaign manager from chief executive officer; laid off dozens of workers because of money problems; and disclosed that the campaign has only $1.5 million to spend.

Politically, McCain has watched his national poll numbers slide over the past six months, in part because of his unpopular positions on Iraq and immigration. He is seeking to restart his faltering bid with a smaller campaign staff and a narrower strategy focused on the three early voting states.


Associated Press Writers Mike Glover in Iowa, Jim Davenport in South Carolina and Scott Lindlaw in California contributed to this report.

© 2007 The Associated Press