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Sen. John McCain’s advertising consultants have resigned from his presidential campaign, the latest in a rash of staff shake-ups in recent weeks.
McCain communications director Jill Hazelbaker on Wednesday described the departure of Russ Schriefer and Stuart Stevens as amicable and said the Arizona Republican “appreciates their service” but accepted their resignations when they were offered Monday night.
Schriefer and Stevens were part of George W. Bush’s campaign team in 2000 and 2004 and were part of Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign. The Wall Street Journal first reported the departures Wednesday night.
While the two had an agreement to work for the McCain campaign, FEC records indicate that they had not been paid and were not owed any money.
Aides downplayed their departure as a sign of a troubled campaign that has struggled financially and has been hit hard by the senator’s support for the unpopular war in Iraq and the failed immigration reforms.
McCain is trying to reassemble his staff and his candidacy after a disastrous six months of weak fundraising and dropping poll numbers.
McCain’s campaign manager Terry Nelson and his longtime political adviser Jon Weaver resigned earlier this month. The campaign reported ending the second quarter of the year with $3.2 million cash on hand and $1.8 million in debts. Several campaign consultants and vendors are owed money.
Hazelbaker, McCain’s top spokeswoman, said the campaign would rely on McCain’s biography to remind voters why they gave him a 19 percentage point win over Bush in New Hampshire in 2000.
“John McCain’s life story has prepared him to lead this country forward on day one,” Hazelbaker said. “And any paid media effort will reflect that.”
However, McCain has to be able to afford those television ads, an uncertain prospect given oversized spending and lagging fundraising. To help steady his campaign, McCain has scheduled two days in New Hampshire, campaigning in town halls and small venues. He told reporters on Wednesday those settings will help him remind voters why they liked him eight years earlier.
“I think we’re doing fine. I’m happy to see the reception I’m getting here in New Hampshire,” McCain said. “We’re going to be fine over time. Most people aren’t focusing on the race yet. Our campaign has had ups and downs, but at the end of the day, we’ll be just fine.”
Associated Press writer Jim Kuhnhenn in Washington contributed to this report.