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Hickenlooper shakes up presidential campaign staff

A day after the second fundraising quarter ended and after his national finance director left to join former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke's presidential campaign, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper shook up his own presidential campaign staff.

On Monday night, Hickenlooper named M.E. Smith his campaign manager, replacing Brad Komar. A spokesperson confirmed the departure of Hickenlooper's national finance director, Dan Sorenson, for O'Rourke's campaign. Politico first reported Sorenson's defection to O'Rourke.

Smith most recently served as campaign manager for Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey's successful reelection. Smith was also Sen. Michael Bennet's deputy campaign manager in 2016 and deputy campaign manager for Hickenlooper's gubernatorial reelection campaign in 2014.

Hickenlooper campaign spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said of Sorenson in a statement to CBS News, "We wish him the best on his future endeavors." 

But Hitt, too, is leaving Hickenlooper's campaign. She told CBS News she would be transitioning out of the job in the next couple of weeks.

On Tuesday, the Hickenlooper campaign said that New Hampshire political director Nolan Varee was also leaving, as was digital director John Schueler. A sixth official, deputy finance director Brendan Koch, left the campaign weeks ago. 

A source with knowledge of the campaign says the staffers leaving Hickenlooper's team were not fired but decided to leave. When asked whether his staffer were fired or quit, Hickenlooper told MSNBC on Tuesday that it was a "combination of the two." The former Colorado governor then admitted that he is "not always the perfect spokesperson for my own ideas." 

A source said that the campaign only raised roughly half as much in the second quarter of 2019 than they had in the first, meaning the campaign only pulled in around $1 million, a number first reported by Politico. The campaign has not yet released how much it brought in last quarter. 

Hickenlooper has been criticizing progressive plans like "Medicare for All" and the "Green New Deal" as unrealistic economically, while defending the role of the private sector and capitalism in the U.S. economy. The popular two-term Colorado governor has been lagging in the polls, registering under 1% in a CNN survey taken after last week's first primary debates.

When asked about his campaign's struggles, Hickenlooper said there was blame to go around. "I think it's a little of the message, a little of the messenger, a little of the team," he said in the MSNBC interview Tuesday. 

Sarah Ewall-Wice and Stephen Sanchez contributed to this report.

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