WASHINGTON — Former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander laid off nearly half his senior campaign staff Thursday as he became the first GOP presidential hopeful to suffer severe wounds from the George W. Bush juggernaut.
Alexander ordered the cuts as part of a plan to focus his dwindling resources on February's caucuses in Iowa, where aides said he will beef up staff and resources in a last-ditch effort to derail the Texas governor's campaign.
Steve Schmidt, Alexander's communications director and among those losing a job, tried to make the best of a bad situation. "We are making structural changes while there is still time," he said. "The campaign will be around through the fall."
Also being laid off are legal counsel Katherine Phillips; Schmidt's deputy, Jeff Macedo; and Brian Jones, head of research.
Schmidt, who will become a consultant to the campaign, said Alexander will, in effect, put all his eggs into Iowa. "That is our moment of ignition. If we do well, the money will come into the campaign, national poll numbers will rise and we will be in a position to compete in New Hampshire," which holds the first primary.