Their departures came after the campaign announced it raised only $2 million in the last three months, leading McCain to fire dozens of members of his campaign staff.
Nelson, speaking at the time of the announcement, refused to go into detail on the firings, but said “every department” had been affected. “Republicans close to the campaign said that at least 50 and as many as 80 people were being let go, out of a staff of around 150 people,” the New York Times reported.
Nelson and Weaver’s departure reportedly resulted from an incident when McCain “erupted after concluding that his top-level advisers had mismanaged the operation,” according to the Washington Post.
“An angry McCain reportedly confronted Weaver and Nelson about the campaign’s operations, particularly the amount of money that was being spent even when it was clear funds were tight,” the Post reported. “The final confrontation, coming after McCain returned from a visit to Iraq over the weekend, ultimately led to their departures, according to sources.”
Nelson joined the McCain team in 2006 after serving as President Bush’s political adviser in 2004. He “was seen as the crown jewel in that recruitment effort, a member of the Bush inner circle who was widely regarded as a strategist on the rise,” the Post reported.
The departure of the two senior team members is the latest setback for a campaign once seen as the presumed Republican nominee. McCain has lagged behind both former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in both polls and funding.
But despite the lagging campaign, McCain, aided by new campaign chairman Rick Davis, has said he will remain.
“We’ve had ups and downs in other campaigns and we’ll have ups and downs with this campaign. I’m very happy with where we are,” McCain told a crush of reporters at the Capitol, promising to “out-campaign” his rivals.
But some question the veteran senator’s ability to rebound.
“They can decide to crank up the bus and try to recapture the magic from 2000, but once it’s gone it is hard to get back,” a reported longtime Republican consultant told Reuters. “The fund-raising community just closes their checkbooks.”