McCain Denies Staff Departures Part of Campaign Shake Up

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf Reports: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., whose presidential campaign announced the simultaneous departures of his campaign manager and chief strategist on Tuesday, denied a campaign 'shake up'.

McCain said Terry Nelson and John Weaver were not fired. He said the status of Mark Salter, his chief of staff and co-author of his five books, is still under discussion.

McCain's brief parry with the press came after a Senate floor speech in which the Senator reiterated his support for President Bush's strategy in Iraq, a position that has seemingly put a dent in his presidential ambitions.

McCain repeatedly denied this was a "shake up", shaking his head no at the question. He would also not say that he was frustrated with the pace of his campaign and said he thinks things are going well.

Asked why, in that case, the staff changes were necessary, McCain said, "There is no purpose here."

To reporters who argued that the departures seemed like a shake up, McCain retorted, "If you won't accept what I say, you're free to accept whatever you want."

Of Nelson and Weaver, McCain said: "These are good and close friends and they will remain so. I have relied on their counsel and friendship for years and will continue to do so in the future."

Terry Nelson, who served as McCain's campaign manager and was a part of President Bush's reelection team in 2004, said in a statement Tuesday, "This morning I informed Senator McCain that I would be resigning from his presidential campaign, effective immediately," adding that it had been a "tremendous honor to serve Senator McCain" and insisting "McCain is the most experienced and prepared candidate to represent the Republican Party and defeat the Democratic nominee next year."

John Weaver echoed a similar sentiment, saying in statement, "As of today, I have resigned my position as chief strategist to John McCain's presidential campaign," adding that it had been an "honor and a distinct privilege to serve someone who has always put our country first."

McCain, once considered the frontrunner for the 2008 Republican nomination, has had a rough second run for the White House. Last week, the campaign announced they had raised $11.2 million over the past three months but have only $2 million cash-on-hand.

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