McCain dumps top adviser Weaver predicted senator would support Iraq stay

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WASHINGTON – John McCain’s longtime top adviser, John Weaver, predicted last week that the senator would make the case to stay in Iraq to jump-start his faltering campaign. Weaver failed to predict, however, that he would be gone.

In a stunning move Tuesday, McCain shed Weaver, a close friend and the architect of his underdog New Hampshire primary win in 2000, as his chief campaign strategist.

He also collected the resignations of campaign manager Terry Nelson and two other top aides. McCain said he accepted their departures “with regret and deep gratitude for their dedication, hard work and friendship,” and pledged to stay in the presidential race, but GOP insiders consigned him to also-ran status.

Even before the staff shakeup, a prominent Republican strategist not affiliated with another presidential hopeful said that McCain was “on a ventilator, and he ain’t going to wake up.”

GOP consultant Rich Galen, whose son, Reed Galen, was among the aides working without salary who bolted McCain, said “what we may be seeing is that McCain’s time has come and gone.”

McCain tapped Rick Davis, another longtime aide who often crossed swords with Weaver, to take over as chief strategist.

McCain acted after his support for the Iraq troop surge and President Bush’s failed immigration bill dried up his donor base and left him with only $2 million in the bank.

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