- The Washington Times - Monday, July 16, 2007

WASHINGTON John McCain’s top communications aides and several staffers in Iowa and South Carolina quit today, 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.

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.

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