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McCain campaign forced to cut staff as funds dwindle

Tue., July 3, 2007, midnight

It took John McCain just six months to go from perceived Republican front-runner to all but broke.

The 70-year-old Arizona senator has just $2 million for his second presidential run, having blown through much of the nearly $25 million he raised since the year began.

In a bow to this bleak financial outlook, McCain laid off dozens of staffers on Monday in every department in a sweeping reorganization aimed at ensuring that the once-failed White House aspirant is able to compete come the fall and beyond.

“We confronted reality and we dealt with it in the best way that we could so that we could move forward with this campaign focused on winning our primaries in the early states,” said Terry Nelson, McCain’s campaign manager.

Officials with knowledge of the reorganization said more than 50 staffers, and perhaps as many as 80 to 100, in every area of the campaign were being let go, and senior aides will be subject to pay cuts. These officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the campaign would not publicly discuss specifics.

Whiterocks, Utah

Decreased winds help firefighters on deadly blaze

Aided by light winds, firefighters made “outstanding” inroads Monday against a wildfire that has killed three people and burned more than 54 square miles.

About two dozen people in this town were allowed to return home as crews maintained fire lines near buildings in the sparsely populated area about 100 miles east of Salt Lake City.

But away from homes and other buildings, the strategy mostly was to let the fire burn dead trees in the Ashley National Forest, said Jay Esperance of the U.S. Forest Service.

“We’ve made outstanding progress,” Esperance said. “It is substantially more manageable.”

The blaze was 10 percent contained Monday evening.

Three people were killed Friday, the day the fire began. It has burned 35,000 acres, about one-third in the national forest and the rest on private and public lands and the Uintah and Ouray Indian reservations, said Marc Mullenix, an incident commander.

The cost so far: $1.6 million, half of it tied to helicopters and aircraft dropping water and retardant, he said.

Sevierville, Tenn.

Stolen monkeys recovered; two teenagers charged

Two baby marmosets that were stolen from an exotic pet store have been found safe, and two Kentucky teenagers were charged in the theft, authorities say.

The monkeys were taken from the Exotic Pet Center in Sevierville early Thursday but were found in Maryville, about 30 miles west, authorities said Monday.

An 18-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man, both from Kentucky, are charged with felony theft and felony burglary. The monkeys were found in their car by Maryville police, who had been questioning the teenagers on an unrelated matter.

One of the monkeys, a common marmoset, has a retail price of about $2,800. The other, a rarer Geoffrey’s marmoset, could bring up to $4,500. They appeared to be in good health.

The monkeys are both females born in captivity. One was about 7 weeks old, the other about 9 weeks old, said Gilbert Perez, owner of the pet store.

From wire reports


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