ABC News’ Rick Klein Reports: Sen. John McCain’s longtime campaign pollster has severed ties with McCain’s presidential campaign, in the latest of a series of high-profile losses that have battered McCain’s struggling 2008 bid.
Bill McInturff, co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies, confirmed to ABC News that he ended his relationship with McCain’s campaign on Thursday.
The campaign’s money woes left it with a limited budget for polling, he said — the campaign has conducted only one poll all of this year — and the move will free McInturff to resume his relationship with NBC and The Wall Street Journal, for whom he has conducted polls since 2003.
"The McCain campaign doesn’t have a large budget for polling right now," McInturff said. "The NBC/Wall Street Journal thing is . . . important to me, and I just wanted to make sure I was active in this transition period" with the Journal being sold to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
McInturff has done polling for McCain since 1991, and he stressed that his decision has nothing to do with McCain’s viability as a candidate.
"I still believe John is by far the best Republican candidate for president," he said.
But the defection is another big blow to a campaign that’s been struggling for traction. McCain’s top ad men — Russ Schriefer and Stuart Stevens — have also left the campaign, and the Arizona Republican reshuffled his campaign this summer with the resignations of campaign manager Terry Nelson and chief strategist John Weaver.
Though McCain has bounced back in the polls in recent weeks, with a tour designed to tout his support for the Iraq war, he is under intense pressure to boost his fund-raising numbers — and quickly — after finishing the second quarter nearly broke.
The McCain campaign declined to comment.