Two political "bombshells" went off today.
First, it became public that the vast majority of presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich's advisers and aides have quit his campaign. Not is not unusual for aides and advisers to be fired during a campaign for any number of reasons, but such a mass exodus of key personel is almost without precedent especially so early in the campaign. However, this exodus is not very shocking to many keen political wonks who were more shocked it didn't happen sooner.
This is because, to be blunt, Newt has had a pretty damn rough start. Within the first few weeks of launching his campaign for President he called Paul Ryan's budget plan "right wing social engineering" and seemed to speak in favor of the dreaded "individual mandate" element of Obama's Healthcare reform. Within days of course Newt denied this things and claimed his words had been taken out of context, though he fooled no one. Many believed then that his campaign was over.
However he did shock some in the following weeks when he was able to get pretty good crowds at various events across the nation (including my home state of Iowa). But then, he seemingly disappeared from the political rat race. This is because he went on vacation with his wife to Greece. This apparently was the last straw for his advisers. They had apparently begged Newt not to go and he had ignored them, assured that he would apparently "re-launch" his campaign after he came back but his advisers apparently thought otherwise.
And now, Newt is far worse off than he was before, when he only had to deal with damning statements. Now he has to deal with that and having virtually no senior advisers and the man does not have a reputation of being a good manager.
The second "bomb" was just announced this evening; Mitt Romney plans to skip the Ames Straw Poll in August. Now this was also not a huge shock to many political wonks as lately many have openly critized the Ames Straw Poll and even the Iowa GOP Caucus in general because of as a general rule, Iowa Republicans are pretty socially conservative and as such if you aren't big on social issues they aren't going to give you the light of day (I can speak from experience).
Now a bit of history likely has something to do with Romney's decision. In the 2008 Presidental season, Romney tried to run as a social conservative and won the Ames Straw Poll but lost the Iowa Caucus to Mike Huckabee. This was especially hurtful considering how much money Romney had spent to end up finishing second.
Now this election cycle, Romney has changed gears and is running on the issue that is prime in the vast majority of Americans' mind: the economy. By abandoning the social issues and focusing on the economy, Romney likely believes taking part in the Ames Straw Poll is too much of risk because if he loses, it will likely be because he is softer on social issues not the issues most Americans care about.
And for that reason, I believe Romney has made the right decision in skipping the poll in Ames. There is no sense in risking his leader status on something as shaky as the Ames Straw Poll and Romney is also doing something else important: He is not abandoning Iowa. While he is skipping the poll in Ames, he plans to keep up his campaign schedule here in Iowa which will likely pay off in the long run. This is because while he may take second in the Iowa Caucus again, his focus on the economy could deliver him the state in the general election should he win the nomination.
So, hats off to Romney for his political bomb. When it comes to poor Newt..All I can say is..Quit now!