Gingrich top aides abandon campaign
June 10th, 2011
06:10 AM ET
7 years ago

Gingrich top aides abandon campaign

Washington (CNN) – At least seven members of Newt Gingrich's senior campaign staff resigned Thursday, sources told CNN, but the Republican presidential candidate pledged he would start his campaign "anew."

In addition, one of his national campaign co-chairs defected Thursday to former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty's presidential campaign, according to a Pawlenty campaign release. Former Gov. Sonny Perdue of Gingrich's home state of Georgia moved over to the competing campaign.

The staff resignations included his campaign manager Rob Johnson and long-time Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler. Also departing are Gingrich strategists Dave Carney and Sam Dawson. Consultants Katon Dawson, who is based in South Carolina, Craig Schoenfeld, who is based in Iowa, and Scott Rials, who is based in Georgia, have left as well as six staff members in Iowa and Perdue.

Gingrich held a meeting Thursday with Johnson and Dawson to discuss disagreements between the candidate and his staff. Tyler said the discussion was about "Newt as a candidate and control of the campaign and scheduling."

The aides resigned when an agreement was not reached, but Tyler said aides are "always hopeful for a mutually agreeable path forward."

But when a campaign and a candidate do not see eye to eye "they've got to part ways," Tyler told CNN.

"The professional team came to the realization that the direction of the campaign they sought and Newt's vision for the campaign were incompatible," Carney told CNN.

Gingrich responded to the events on his Facebook page Thursday.

"I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring. The campaign begins anew Sunday in Los Angeles," Gingrich wrote.

An aide told CNN that "Newt will participate in Monday's debate in New Hampshire as originally planned."

CNN, WMUR and the New Hampshire Union Leader are sponsoring a GOP presidential debate Monday in Manchester.

Gingrich was absent from the campaign trail for about two weeks recently because of a "planned vacation" with his wife, Callista. He returned with a campaign stop Wednesday in Hudson, New Hampshire.

Tyler said the "vacation was not helpful."

And Craig Schoenfeld, former Iowa Executive Director for Newt 2012, who confirmed all six of Gingrich's paid staff members in Iowa resigned, said "the timing was unfortunate but it's not directly related to his vacation." They already had the sense before the vacation that Gingrich wasn't committed to spending the time in Iowa that it takes to win.

"Bottom line is there was a difference of opinion in how we saw a path to success and victory," Schoenfeld said.

The difference of opinion centered on "commitment of securing and deploying campaign resources and commitment of candidate time to the campaign trail."

"I knew what it was going to take to be successful in Iowa, the New Hampshire team knew what it was going to take to be successful in New Hampshire, the South Carolina team knew what it was going to take to be successful in South Carolina," Schoenfeld said. "As a team we were all in unison on that approach," but the candidate they were working for was not.

His decision was made after a series of meetings between the national staff about where, what, who, when and how to approach the rest of the campaign. Schoenfeld was not a part of those meetings, but the message was conveyed to the state directors after those meetings that the candidate had a different type of campaign in mind.

Schoenfeld said he has not been approached by any other campaign, and as far as he knows none of his staff has either. When Newt's national campaign staff told him about their strategic differences with the candidate, they did not ask him to sign on with another candidate instead.

One of the Gingrich staffers who resigned said it wasn't a personal issue, but there was a big question about his ability to raise money and the candidate's commitment to early voting states particularly Iowa.

"There is a shortage of money," the staffer said. "It is a tough day and a tough world out here in the fundraising and political arena."

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Gingrich didn't make the "time to go and shake hands with voters."

The departures of Johnson and Carney are already fueling speculation about a potential candidacy by Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Perry recently said he plans to consider a Republican presidential bid after the Texas legislative session concludes, and both Carney and Johnson are two of the governor's top political advisers. Their resignation from the Gingrich campaign would free them up to assist Perry if he decides to run.

Despite the 2012 chatter, Perry's office insists that the governor has no current plans to run for president.

Perdue, who joined Team Pawlenty Thursday, is very close to Pawlenty's campaign manager, Nick Ayers, who ran Perdue's gubernatorial campaign.

"Tim Pawlenty is a great man, he was a phenomenal governor, and he is the person I now believe stands the greatest chance of defeating President Obama," Perdue said in a statement. "He is the only candidate who has laid out a real plan to grow the American economy, and his track record in Minnesota is proof he's the right man for the job."

The former House Speaker announced his bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination on May 11.

He is best known for engineering the Contract with America and leading the Republicans' surge to power in Congress in 1994 but his reputation took a hit in 1995, when a budget standoff in the House led to a temporary shutdown of parts of the federal government. Republicans didn't fare well in the 1998 elections, and Gingrich stepped down.

- CNN's Mark Preston, Peter Hamby, John King, Kevin Bohn and Adam Aigner-Treworgy contributed to this report.

– On Monday, June 13, CNN will host the first New Hampshire Republican Presidential Debate, live from Manchester, NH at 8 p.m. ET. Follow all the issues and campaign news leading up to the debate on and @cnnpolitics on Twitter.

Filed under: 2012 • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    This does not bode well for the home team.
    Your campaign MANAGER just ups and quits?

    Weiner who????????????????????

    June 9, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    Newt, take the hint.

    June 9, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  3. DumbasRocks [R]s

    This cracks me up! And surprises me. You mean there was actually someone left on the [R] side with any brains?!! Who knew?!! But Mr. Johnson, remember this, even a stopped clock is correct twice a day.

    I think the whole [R] party runs off this stopped-clock approach to life. Yeh, that sure is conservatism at its finest.

    June 9, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  4. TomInRochNY

    Newt never had a chance.

    June 9, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    !Several other senior advisers to the campaign also resigned, according to another source.
    Well for the love of Freedom, Faith, and Country who the hell is LEFT????!!!!!!

    June 9, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  6. Tom - Las Vegas

    Why would people be abandoning Newt now? His natural running mate just emerged and he could be at the top of a bi-partisan ticket with Anthony Weiner filling the VP slot. It looks like marital infidelity is taboo again which doesn't help Newt at all.

    June 9, 2011 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |

    they just can't back a loser!

    June 9, 2011 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |

    Lizard made their jobs moot when he blew up the Ryan plan and went on a cruise. The key question became "What capaign?" There is no meaningful campaigning left to do,so they're out.

    June 9, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  9. Get A Grip

    Well, one thing for sure. This country doesn't need a RINO in the White House.

    June 9, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  10. Stacey

    Now it's time for Newtie to quit too. He has no chance of becoming POTUS.

    June 9, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  11. Get A Clue!

    And the Rats have ALREADY started abandoning the sinking ship U.S.S. Newt!!!!!

    June 9, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  12. Danny

    It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

    June 9, 2011 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  13. Joras

    They realize they have no chance...Newt is a piece of garbage

    June 9, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  14. john

    Newt should stop the madness. Never in a million years could he unite enough independents and blue dogs to beat the BIG O. Romeny/Huckabee '12. That ticket will put a bit of starch in the race. But, in order for anyone candidate to win they have got to get the economy moving. Pres. Obama has sat back and done nothing, other than continue bailouts and stimulus
    Programs that only deliver temporary relief. Which is exactly what Pres. Bush was doing! Prolonging the issue. Find a way to get America back to work and the economy moving and you have my vote! A jobless recovery is no recovery at all!

    June 9, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  15. bb

    The climate for extra-marital affairs getting too hot for Newt to weather this time around? Where was all this faux outrage during Newt's prior tenure of service? Where was it for every other member of his party who has done the same? Why are Republicans voting for these people who are actually running on the values platform? Obviously, 'values' has no meaning at all for both these congressmen and their voter support.

    June 9, 2011 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  16. jayvee2

    Well, that didn't take long. What is it that makes these has-been Republicans (Gingrich, Santorum, et. al.) think they can get elected president let alone be nominated by their party?

    June 9, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  17. CarolO

    Who cares? He was done before he started just like the other times.

    June 9, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  18. navagater541

    Well.. that lasted longer than I thought it would.

    June 9, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    Oy Boy. The treads are coming off the tires. I hope he makes it to next week's debate before the entire wheels come off.

    June 9, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  20. jj

    ide quit too! we havent heard from this guy in how long? now he wants to run for president? this guy has a zero percent chance of winning anything. newt go crawl back under the rock you came out of!

    June 9, 2011 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  21. GOP-Tea Party Radical Social Engineering to Kill Grandma Medicare

    Newt Gringrich should QUIT already!

    He is NOT fit for the presidency, considering what the fact that cheating spouses politicians are denigrating our political landscape!

    Newt's case is far more worse because he and his wife Calista Gingrinch are deemed cheaters of the highest order....Americans are NOT going to elect a first lady whose marriage to a president was as a result infidelity!!!

    Both Newt and Calista Gingrich are bad for America....morally, ethically, and in terms of family values and personal responsibilities, ...these two philandering kooks lack NONE!!!!

    June 9, 2011 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  22. Elitiest

    And things were going so well for him... Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy...

    June 9, 2011 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  23. Bob

    Now he needs to step down as a candidate. He has no chance and never has..

    June 9, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  24. Auntie-Christ

    Aw Newt, we hardly knew ye...

    But what we did know of you, we didn't like.

    Don't let the door hit you on your bulbous pasty behind on the way out.

    June 9, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  25. Alex

    you had no chance anyways Newt.

    June 9, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
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