By JONATHAN MARTIN 6/9/11 3:24 PM EDT
Newt Gingrich’s top staff quit en masse Thursday, throwing into question whether his already troubled presidential campaign can continue.
Two sources close to the situation confirmed that campaign manager Rob Johnson, strategists Sam Dawson and Dave Carney, spokesman Rick Tyler, and consultants Katon Dawson in South Carolina and Craig Schoenfeld in Iowa have all quit to protest what one called a “different vision” for the campaign.
The sources said Gingrich was staying in the race.
The mass resignation was, one source said, “a team decision.”
“We just had a different direction in which we wanted to take the campaign,” said a second source.
Gingrich was intent on using technology and standing out at debates to get traction while his advisers believed he needed to run a campaign that incorporated both traditional, grassroots techniques as well as new ideas.
One official said the last straw came when Gingrich went forward with taking a long-planned cruise with his wife last week in the Greek isles. After his bumpy start, rumors began to circulate in the political community the former House speaker’s days as a candidate were numbered. But the collective decision by his high command to quit makes it likely that his demise will be hastened. Officials like Dawson and Tyler have advised for Gingrich for years. And Johnson, who ran Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign last year, was seen as bringing a measure of stability to the organization. Now, speculation will immediately begin as to whether Johnson and Carney, Perry’s chief political adviser, will start planning a presidential campaign for the Texan.
Sources familiar with Perry’s thinking continue to insist, however, that such an eventuality is still unlikely.
Gingrich stumbled almost immediately out of the gate, after declaring in a May appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the House Republican budget plan was too “radical” and represented “right-wing social engineering.”
As his campaign struggled to clean up that mistake – Gingrich took days to apologize to Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the budget’s author – the former House speaker was hit by the embarrassing revelation that he and his wife had once racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt at the luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co.
Gingrich and his top aides insisted at the time that the botched rollout had not affected the candidate’s standing with voters, blaming instead the Washington “literati” for their predicament.
But Gingrich then virtually vanished from the campaign trail, taking more than a week off the campaign trail. His whereabouts were unknown until this week, when POLITICO revealed that he and his wife, Callista, were on a cruise in the Mediterranean.
Gingrich returned to the campaign trail briefly on Wednesday, signing a deficit-reduction pledge in New Hampshire.
Considering how Newt's campaign as gone so far, I wouldn't want to be one of his advisers either...Especially if I wanted a future in the GOP.