McCain sacks staff as support for rival soars

Last week, I closed my column at with this conclusion…

So with Senator Thompson shrewdly playing the reluctant public servant, one question burns in the minds of the GOP field.

“Are Thompson’s votes coming from me?” Sadly, for longtime friend and not so conservative colleague John McCain, that answer is and will increasingly become a resounding “Yes”.

The numbers are starting to back that up.

McCain sacks staff as support for rival soars – Independent Online Edition > Americas

Senator John McCain, once clear front-runner to be the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, has fired some of his campaign team as part of an effort to reinvigorate his flailing candidacy. In a sign of how badly he is struggling, a poll has revealed support for the actor Fred Thompson has soared and Mr McCain has been pushed into third place.

Senior aides to Mr McCain, 70, made the decision to cut staff after it emerged he had only managed to raise $12.5m (£6.5m) in the first quarter of the year – considerably less than some of his rivals. Aides presented the move as a cost-saving exercise rather than a shake-up.

“Presidential campaigns are dynamic organisations, and we are focused on ensuring that ours is as efficient and effective as possible,” Mr McCain’s spokesman, Tucker Bounds, told the Arizona Republic.

But whatever his aides say, there is little doubt Mr McCain is struggling. His decision to support President George Bush’s policy in Iraq combined with a sense among some that he has lost the maverick status that attracted voters during the 1999 Republican primary, has left him with a real fight on his hands if he is to secure the party’s nomination.

His position has not been helped by the emergence of Mr Thompson, a former senator from Tennessee and an actor best known for his work on the television crime series Law and Order.

A poll commissioned by the Los Angeles Times suggested that, within the Republican field, Mr Thompson – who so far has only said he is considering running – has moved into second place behind former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani. The poll put Mr Giuliani on 29, Mr Thompson 15 and Mr McCain on 12 points. Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, who has raised the most money in the first quarter, is in 4th place.


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