The McCain Campaign Seeks a Mulligan

“I was saddened,” she said about hearing of Mr. Weaver’s resignation. “But that’s what restructuring is all about. Did anyone think that anything else would happen? It’s all about the money.”

Ms. Mosbacher herself said she was now contemplating leaving the McCain campaign if former Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee entered the race, though she argued it had nothing to do with Mr. McCain’s unexpectedly poor showing.

“I have already told John that if Fred jumps in, Fred is family, and I’m with Fred,” said Ms. Mosbacher. “I was with John last time around, and I was with him this time. But Fred supercedes that.”

Mr. McCain’s chief rival in the primary election, Rudy Giuliani, refused on Tuesday to count his rival out of the race.

When asked about the resignations at a press conference in New Hampshire, Mr. Giuliani called Mr. McCain a “fighter” and said, “Just think of how many times before you thought a candidate was at an end. And they came back.”

Indeed, many of Mr. McCain’s chief donors stayed entirely committed to the candidate, and argued that the change in staffing did not indicate a fatal flaw in the campaign and that all reports of the campaign’s demise were premature.

Reflecting what is likely to be the new spin coming out of the now-gutted McCain campaign, Mr. Eisenberg said that Mr. Davis was ready to lead “a lean mean fighting machine that will bring Senator McCain the nomination and the presidency.”

Other key donors to Mr. McCain offered similar support to the Arizona senator.

“Some of the press is going to spin this as a terrible setback; I think that is BS,” said Fred Malek, who ran the elder Bush’s presidential campaign in 1992 and was a partner of the current president in owning the Texas Rangers. “We’re going to take a little bit of a setback in the polls in the next few days, and this change will ruffle some people, but so what, it’s July.”

Mr. Malek said that if the campaign was looked at in business terms, it was apparent that something needed to be shaken up.

“If you are a chairman of the board,” he said, “and you are running a company and your CEO’s expenditures continue to exceed revenues, you might consider a change.”

With Mr. Nelson and Mr. Weaver gone, and Mr. Salter taking himself off payroll, the burden now felt on Mr. Davis to turn things around.

A source inside the campaign said that Mr. Davis had been going around the country for the past three or four months trying to assure the most important national donors that the campaign would get back on track. In light of the campaign burning through roughly $20 million, the source said, those donors will likely require that they be in the loop about budget expenditures, how the money is spent, where and why.

The source said that the campaign’s finance officials were astonished to see that it had only $2 million on hand at the end of a second fund-raising quarter that was supposed to inject life back into the moribund campaign.

“We didn’t do TV,” said the source, who added that money should have been saved by shaving off a huge chunk of campaign staff last week. “We are out there raising money and I was pleased with $11 million under the circumstances, with immigration and everything, and I too was surprised that we only had $2 million.”