Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman’s (R) presidential campaign manager, Susie Wiles, is resigning and will be replaced by communications director Matt David, according to the campaign.
Huntsman is announcing the changes to his staff at a meeting this afternoon. Top adviser John Weaver confirmed the changes to The Fix.
“Susie has served the campaign well and was vital in getting it off the ground in such a short time-frame,” Weaver said in a statement provided by the campaign. “In just under three months, Governor Huntsman has returned from China, launched a campaign and created a strong infrastructure in the three early primary states. He’s built important relationships with donors, as well as political, policy and grassroots leaders that other candidates have been courting for half a decade.
High-level staff departures early in a presidential campaign are generally not seen as a good thing, but thus far, Wiles is the only known departure from Huntsman’s team. (Another staffer recently took a leave for personal reasons.)
The campaign did not expound on the reason for Wiles’s departure. Weaver said the campaign is simply shifting gears.
“Now the campaign is moving into phase two, which will be more aggressive from a messaging and tactical standpoint, and Matt is prepared to take that on,” Weaver said.
At the same time, there has been some grumbling about the campaign’s rollout, which hasn’t gone as well as some had hoped since he announced exactly one month ago.
Huntsman, who officially got into the presidential race about a month ago, has yet to catch on in the polls, but has assembled a team of well-regarded political minds, many who guided Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) 2008 campaign, including Weaver and David.
David is also a veteran of former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s (R) team, having served as his top communications aide. Previously, he served as deputy communications director for McCain in 2008 and Schwarzenegger’s successful 2006 reelection campaign and a communications aide to President Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign.
Wiles came to the Huntsman effort fresh off the election of Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R). She joined a political action committee devoted to Huntsman’s impending campaign in January and became campaign manager of the fledgling effort last month.
In an interview with the Miami Herald, Wiles said it was “just time” for her to move on.
“I signed up to get it started,” she said. “It’s like a phase. This morning I said it’s time to move on.”
Wiles’s husband, veteran advanceman Lanny Wiles, will remain employed by the campaign.
Huntsman has proven a top fundraiser in what has generally been a weak GOP fundraising field, pulling in more than $4 million in the final days of June alone, according to his campaign. That total included $2 million of his own money.
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