updated 11/10/2003 12:26:23 AM ET 2003-11-10T05:26:23

Sen. John Kerry, trying to jump start his ailing bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, has fired his campaign manager. In a statement, Kerry said Jim Jordan’s job was being given to veteran Democratic operative Mary Beth Cahill and that Jordan was being offered another position.

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TWO SENIOR campaign officials speaking on condition of anonymity had told The Associated Press earlier the decision to oust Jordan was made jointly by Kerry and his campaign chairman, former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Kerry told Jordan the reason he was removed was because changes were needed in the campaign. Kerry has been trailing considerably behind former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean in the polls.

“From the bottom of my heart, I thank Jim Jordan for his leadership, extremely hard work, unsurpassed loyalty and devotion to me, to this campaign, and to the people who have worked with him,” Kerry said in the statement.

Kerry said he has asked Jordan to remain as a senior strategist “as we enter this critical phase of the campaign.”

An official close to Jordan, who asked not to be publicly identified, said it was unclear whether Jordan would accept the offer.

WORKED WITH CLINTON, KENNEDY

Kerry called Cahill “an accomplished leader for Democrats and progressive causes.” She has worked for Emily’s List, a lobbying group on behalf of women’s political issues, and also for Bill Clinton and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. She currently is chief of staff for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

Jordan, a well-known Democratic operative, was a spokesman for the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton. He also worked on the Senate committee that investigated political fund-raising scandals in the 1990s and the 1996 campaign that elected Tim Johnson of South Dakota to the Senate.

Jordan, former head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, helped build Kerry’s presidential campaign and positioned the senator as an early front-runner in the 2004 Democratic sweepstakes.

However, the candidate and his campaign were slow to respond to Dean’s surprise surge. Kerry had been contemplating a shake up for several weeks.

An 18-year veteran of the Senate, Kerry is third in most polls in Iowa, where the nation’s first presidential selection caucuses will be held, and trails Dean by a double-digit margin in New Hampshire, a must-win state for both men.

UNION ENDORSEMENTS

The change comes days after Dean solidified his grip on the front-runner status by securing two highly coveted union endorsements — from the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and abandoned the U.S. public finance system — along with the spending limits that come with it.

Kerry’s whose wife is the heiress of the Heinz ketchup fortune, is expected to announce this week whether he will follow suit and invest his family’s money in his bid for the White House.

© 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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