More Trouble In Kerry Camp

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., seeking the Democratic Party presidential nomination, talks to Benedict College students about rising tuition costs during his campaign visit to Columbia, S.C., Friday Sept. 12, 2003. (AP Photo/Lou Krasky)
AP
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry's press secretary and deputy finance director quit Tuesday, adding to the turmoil on Kerry's political staff after the dismissal of his campaign manager.

Robert Gibbs, chief spokesman for the Massachusetts lawmaker, and Carl Chidlow quit to protest the firing of campaign manager Jim Jordan, let go by Kerry Sunday night. Both expressed dissatisfaction with the campaign, according to two officials.

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

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

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 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.

Jordan was ousted by the Massachusetts senator and his campaign chair, Jeanne Shaheen, the former governor of New Hampshire, and replaced by longtime Democratic operative Mary Beth Cahill.

Sources said that Jordan was told by Kerry the reason he was dismissed was because changes were needed in the campaign, which was slow to respond to the surprise surge by Dean. Kerry had been contemplating a shake up for several weeks.

Kerry, an 18-year veteran of the Senate, is third in most polls in Iowa, where the nation's first presidential selection caucuses will be held, and trails Dean by a double-digit margin in New Hampshire, a must-win state for both men.

Kerry, whose wife is the heiress of the Heinz ketchup fortune, is expected to announce this week whether he will follow suit and invest his family's money in his bid for the White House.