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Two more officials quit John Kerry's campaign

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's press secretary and deputy finance director quit Tuesday, adding to the bitter turmoil on Kerry's team after the dismissal of his campaign manager.

Robert Gibbs, chief spokesman for the Massachusetts lawmaker, and deputy finance director Carl Chidlow quit in reaction to the firing of Jim Jordan, abruptly let go by Kerry Sunday night. Both expressed dissatisfaction with the campaign, according to officials.

Gibbs will be replaced by Stephanie Cutter, a former spokeswoman for Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and currently the spokeswoman for the Democratic National Convention, the officials said.

Jordan was replaced Monday by Mary Beth Cahill, who was Kennedy's chief of staff. The switch, less than three months before voters in Iowa participate in the first-in-the-nation caucuses, was designed to jump-start Kerry's campaign by signaling to fund-raisers and activists that he was addressing problems that have caused his campaign to slump.

Many Democratic strategists, however, say the problems were caused by the candidate himself, that he has campaigned as if the nomination was his entitlement while allowing former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean to catapult ahead.

Dean sealed two key union endorsements last week, forcing Kerry to examine his presidential prospects.

The staff shake-up consolidates power around Kennedy's former staff after months of internal division. Kerry's team has consisted of roughly three factions -- his Washington team, paid consultants and friends and family from Boston.

"We're sorry to see them go. They served the senator well," campaign spokeswoman Christine Anderson said of Gibbs and Chidlow.

The departures threaten to further erode the morale of a campaign that had been viewed just months ago as a front-running team. Kerry, who has been trailing former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean in key state polls, had been pressured by donors and supporters to shake up his campaign.

Several campaign officials said the firing of Jordan was viewed as unfair by many Kerry aides, and there remained a possibility that others would follow Gibbs and Chidlow out the door.


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