Savvy strategy, desperate gasp for a final breath, or both?

Roll Call: McCain To Rally, Reassure Hill Supporters

By Erin P. Billings and Emily Pierce

As he looks to dispel questions over the long-term health of his 2008 White House bid, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will hold separate meetings Wednesday with his House and Senate backers to reassure them that he is staying in the race, several GOP sources confirm.

Sources said late Tuesday that McCain and his senior campaign staff now led by Rick Davis will hold the off-campus sessions with the GOP lawmakers. McCain plans to meet with his House Republican backers in the morning and later in the day with Senators who have endorsed his candidacy.

McCain counts some 27 House Members and Senators on his list of Congressional backers, a tally matched only on the GOP side by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Wednesday’s meetings come on the heels of several serious blows in recent days to McCain’s White House bid. The veteran Arizona Republican who was once viewed as the frontrunner in a crowded presidential field has suffered several staff resignations and another disappointing fundraising quarter.

Still, McCain has insisted he will remain in the hunt.

One knowledgeable Republican source said McCain initiated the sessions and is looking at them as an opportunity to bring Members up to speed on “what’s going on and where we are and what’s happening.” This source said giving face time to his Congressional endorsements is “a good move” in light of the recent events.

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