The Republican campaign and consulting world is divided into two categories: those who passionately hate John Weaver and those who ardently defend his political expertise. The debate has turned increasingly relevant as voters wonder why Jon Huntsman, the presidential candidate and former Utah governor, continues to keep him on as senior strategist to his flailing presidential campaign.
Weaver himself is like a house divided, a Republican-turned-Democrat-turned Republican. He throws himself into campaigns only to lose, to be pushed out, or to leave under questionable circumstances. Weaver consistently over-hires, yet doesn’t raise enough money.
And now more than ever, he’s finding himself on the receiving end of harsh criticism from current and past colleagues. For many who know Weaver, the bottom line is that working with him seldom ends well for the candidates or other staffers.
“Now only four months into it, nearly a dozen highly qualified, talented, and dedicated senior staffers have all quit, in large part, if not totally, because of the way they were treated by one person, John Weaver,” campaign and White House veteran Spencer Geissinger told The Daily Caller.
“That behavior would have never been tolerated on any of the Bush or Reagan Campaigns, and I worked on all of them dating back to 1985,” added Geissinger. “Maybe that’s why they always won and McCain didn’t, and Huntsman sadly won’t.” Geissinger was among a group of consultants who voluntarily left Team Huntsman.
In response, Huntsman spokesperson Tim Miller told TheDC, “It is unfortunate that Spencer Geissinger would attack Jon Huntsman and undermine his campaign. That speaks to his level of professionalism.”
“John Weaver and countless others on our campaign and across the country who believe in Jon Huntsman are focused on electing him President, not participating in character assassination,” Miller concluded.
Current and former campaign insiders told TheDC of multiple incidents where individuals who have worked with Weaver warned Huntsman and his family about Weaver’s spending and irrational behavior.
Several sources told TheDC that Sen. John McCain himself directly warned Huntsman not to hire Weaver.
Mark Salter, a close McCain advisor who was also recently consulted by the Huntsman campaign, however, disputed the story.
“I saw him [McCain] today and asked him if there was any truth to the story that he had called Governor Huntsman and discussed John Weaver,” Salter told TheDC. “He told me emphatically there wasn’t; that he hadn’t talked to Huntsman about Weaver at any time and had no intention of doing so.”
Weaver declined to be interviewed for this story, as did Sen. McCain.
Still, Weaver’s off-the-cuff remarks, spending habits, and management style have landed him in trouble a number of times, while alienating people around him.
“Weaver is a miserable son of a bitch,” one campaign insider told TheDC. “I’ve never come across anyone like him.”
That insider went on to call Weaver “divisive, narcissistic, unprofessional, and in my view unethical.”
At the same time, associates from as far back as 15 years ago defend Weaver to this day. In 1996, Weaver was brought on to Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions’ fledgling senate race. Sessions was the Alabama Attorney General at the time, and his bid for higher office wasn’t going as well as it should have.