Two top staffers leave McCain campaign

The troubled Republican presidential campaign, which shed staff last week, is now out two of its leaders.

By Alex Koppelman

Published July 10, 2007 3:21PM (EDT)

Just out in a statement from the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is the news that two of his top staffers, campaign manager Terry Nelson and chief strategist John Weaver, have resigned.

The news comes just more than a week after the campaign announced that it was cutting staff and restructuring, due at least in part to financial constraints -- the campaign long-shot candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, had more cash on hand at last reckoning. At the time, the New York Times reported that somewhere between a third to perhaps even more than a half of McCain's 150 staffers were being let go, and that Nelson had decided to work without salary.

It's just one more in a long line of troubling signs for McCain, who ran second in the race for 2000's Republican presidential nomination and was considered an early front-runner for 2008. Yesterday, the New York Sun speculated that some of the staffers McCain had let go would be hired by former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, who has not yet made his candidacy official but who has already stolen some thunder from the rest of the field, including McCain.

Different from some of those axed last week, by the way, Nelson and Weaver are big names in Republican politics. Nelson was the political director for George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign, and Weaver is a confidant and top aide of McCain's dating back to the 2000 race.

Update: Just after we posted this, the campaign e-mailed out a statement from the senator himself.

"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," McCain said in the statement. "Terry is a consummate professional, who has ably led this campaign through a challenging political environment. John Weaver has been my friend and trusted counselor for many years and to whom (sic) 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."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections John Mccain R-ariz.