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. al in memphis

    Mayday, Mayday–how do you quit a job that you been on for less than a month. Gingrich really not to good at relationships building.

    June 9, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  2. ATL Guy

    I guess they probably liked Obamacare compared to the Republican healthcare plan (which we have yet to see by the way).

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

    That should have been a no brainer from the start!

    June 9, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  4. PK California

    Ut oh! What did he do now? Time to drop out now before something hits the fan!

    June 9, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  5. gerald deen

    Well thank God is all I have to say. Politics is getting old anyway. Humans beings are at a point where we dont need someone to govern over us anymore. It's to old fashoined repubs that still believe power is important. Someone had to step up and show us that its possible to lead and still be humble and self-less. Thank Opn for Obama.

    June 9, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  6. raelalt

    Even political consultants have a conscience, who da thunk it?

    June 9, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  7. Nigel Tufnel

    I'm sure they think "what's the point?"

    June 9, 2011 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  8. Dave from GA

    Well... things change since 17 years ago.

    June 9, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. Jason

    Did his reputation really take a hit? I think a lot of Republicans aren't afraid of a Federal Government shutdown. The Federal Government spends way too much money. If we need to shut things down for a while that is fine. Same with not raising the debt ceiling. I'm fine with no aid going to other countries. I am fine with no welfare checks going out. I am fine with Obamacare not having money to implement. There is tremendous waste all all levels of government and governments are involved in things that they should't be. Lybia is a huge example of money that should not have been spent.

    June 9, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Newt committed political suicide his first week of the campaign.

    June 9, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  11. Forrestal

    One or more of them will probably end up on the Rick Perry campaign.

    June 9, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  12. Wiifi

    OMG! It is the rapture! Newt's top aides have resigned!!!! Everybody run! The world is ending! ~sigh~

    June 9, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  13. ron

    It's weird.........I 've never met Newt and only know him from the media and I don't like him at all. Sorry Newt.

    June 9, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  14. gman

    Looks like the wheels are coming off of this thing before it even gets rolling! Maybe now that hillbilly Sarah Pallin will get in? It is fun watching the GOP put these stooges out there. Hey Hannity – I thought Newt was "The Man"?

    June 9, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  15. D.L. Kisting

    Gingrich will be stepping down again. He is not a viable candidate.

    June 9, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  16. Raj

    I wish newt withdraws from his bid for presidential nomination. He is bad for the country. I think his insiders also are sending this message to the country.

    June 9, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  17. Captain Obvious

    Well.........................that didn't take long!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 9, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  18. Just Me

    LOL. I guess they figured out his was nuts.

    June 9, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  19. Miles

    Perhaps he should have thrown some Tiffany jewelry swag their way. They would have stayed then.

    June 9, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  20. Suzie

    If you can't even run your own nascent campaign, how can you run the country? Oh, wait - ask John McCain!

    June 9, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  21. AnOldGuy2

    the first of many GOP dominoes to fall on their collective faces.

    They just don't have what America wants.....

    June 9, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  22. Randy

    That he even thought he had a chance shows his lack of judgement.

    June 9, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  23. elizabeth

    another one bites the dust!

    June 9, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  24. Rachel

    I really hope this means he's no longer going to be running for president! Yeesh!

    June 9, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  25. ChuchoLRoto

    Newt committed political suicide his first week of the campaign.

    June 9, 2011 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
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