Gingrich top aides abandon campaign
June 10th, 2011
06:10 AM ET
3 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 CNNPolitics.com and @cnnpolitics on Twitter.


Filed under: 2012 • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. Denise

    He's a complete JERK anyway! Can he win the nomination??? Heck no!

    June 9, 2011 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  2. Just Me

    Lord Ham Mercy! These post are killing me especially the guy who is seeking a job as Newt's new campaign manager. LOL. Comedy...oh..comedy.

    June 9, 2011 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. jb1963

    The team quit because they wanted to win. Newt wants a loser campaign. Once a loser always a loser.
    It it wasn't for republicans we wouldn't have any comedy in this world.

    June 9, 2011 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  4. duke13

    The rats are already deserting and the ship is just getting underway.

    June 9, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  5. jimzcarz

    Yeah, the rats always leave the sinking ship first.

    June 9, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. Republican Robber Baron

    The GOP itself is the issue...none of the individual candidates. The Republican Party is hopelessly stuck in the past as the party of Hoover and Corporatists – that are in love with lobbyists and literally sleep with them...err or their wives.

    Not that the Democrats are innocent of these things either but the Republicans are much worse.

    June 9, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  7. mani

    poor dude

    June 9, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  8. skidmark

    If Sarah Palin was going down the road in her bus, and she stuck her head out the window, she would be arrested for mooning.

    June 9, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  9. stuffed

    Newt...the song remains the same...

    You're an old dog who has not learned any new tricks. You had you chance, you blew it. Not to mention to umpteen divorces, you're righter than right approach and your inability to govern...

    We've all seen you before, we've all heard you before and we all watched you fail before...clearly, most people have seen enough...you just have not looked in the right mirror.

    ride into the sunset...retire...you are old stale do nothing Washington us tax payers are tired of!!!

    June 9, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. me

    This campaign was stillborn from the beginning.

    June 9, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  11. Phil in KC

    When your top aides start to resign, you should take a hint. If they really believed in what he was doing and felt he was the absolute best person for the job, petty office in-fighting would not drive them away.

    June 9, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  12. Gonfishn39

    Rob Johnson was Texas Governor Rick Perrys campaign manager... I think he will have a new job in the very near future... Perry will make a great President...

    June 9, 2011 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  13. DrizzCon

    (newt sitting in his office thinking).... How can i get back in the spotlight? Every channel is either Palin or Weiner... oh, i know... i need all you guys to just quit on me! oh yeah... back in the spotlight baby, the little yellow box on the CNN homepage BREAKING NEWS... they were not my real staff anyways... hey, i just got an email from anthony weiner BRB!

    June 9, 2011 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  14. Stephen

    I don't like Newt, but I feel that of the field of official and potential candidates coming out of the Republican party, for better or for worse, he was the most forthright about his views, ideas and opinions.

    June 9, 2011 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  15. John in Colorado

    Rumor has it that Gingrich was hell bent on selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate which caused absolute outrage among his campaign staff. If he couldn't get Paling he wanted Michelle Bachman, or failing that, Sharron Angle of Nevada, or failing that, Margaret Thatcher or failing that, Minnie Mouse or failing that...........

    June 9, 2011 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  16. Joe Mahma

    Maybe Gecko has a chance now.

    June 9, 2011 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  17. LacrosseMom(real one)

    Anyone surprised? The Newt is a goner. Bye....... bye.

    PS. He has awful karma.

    June 9, 2011 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  18. Jeff

    Like the "Contract on America" is going to work again...

    June 9, 2011 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  19. Locode

    Something about the witches Palin, O'Donnell and Bachmann, along with the Eye of Newt....

    "Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
    Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
    Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
    Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,–
    For a charm of powerful trouble,
    Like a hell-broth boil and bubble."

    June 9, 2011 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  20. Buckwheat

    Wow, Newt, even your staff is able to sniff out the douche bag in you. Please do us all a favor...and just go away

    June 9, 2011 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  21. Richard S. Russell

    Why did anybody take this guy's campaign seriously this long?

    June 9, 2011 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  22. fayse

    Newt never had a chance at the Nomination. His staff figured this out and they want to move on to greener pastures.

    June 9, 2011 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  23. Belingo

    You know, I think technically he could even have chance, particularly because the field is so weak. He is smart enough to know that he can't win the Palin-way, and it was a smart move to distance himself from the Ryan Plan. His retraction then was a not so smart move. I totally dislike the guy, but he could have a chance.

    June 9, 2011 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  24. bobby frank

    If this is the way this guy runs his campaign, can you imagine him running our country.......not!

    June 9, 2011 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  25. DollarPalin

    Now that we have seen the Super heroes that the GOP was going to give us for 2012 and it is time to see them all quit ASAP.

    June 9, 2011 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
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