Gingrich top aides abandon campaign
June 10th, 2011
06:10 AM ET
4 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. Markypro57

    Now that's hilarious! The GOP should just try to focus on 2016. They don't have one single candidate that can take on Obama.

    June 9, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  2. dave in SC

    Hey Newt – Follow their example and quit while you're behind.

    June 9, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  3. mani

    i wonder why?

    June 9, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  4. Tony Weinner

    "newts belong in the order Amphibia along with frogs and toads, ancestors of the first aquatic vertebrates to begin to colonize that other earthly environment – land. Comprising a mere 350 species out of the 4000 or so known species of amphibians, salamanders and newts are found only in the Americas and in the temperate zones of Northern Africa, Asia and Europe..."
    And Washington DC.

    June 9, 2011 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  5. Chas in Iowa

    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.

    "I believe the issue with Newt was the infedelity issue along with the ethics investigation into misappropriation of funds that he ducked when he resigned.

    June 9, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. Luis Alvarado

    He's not out, but certainly being handed his gloves and hat. I'm certain he will wait to see what kind of feed back he gets from the CNN Debate on Monday.

    June 9, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. duke13

    The "slimey" lizard isn't doing too well. Lol his campaign is falling apart before it really began.

    June 9, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. Wiifi

    Clearly the rapture has cometh, Gingrich's staff is disappearing into thin air. But hey look, Gingrich is still here. I guess we all know where his beliefs lie now...

    June 9, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  9. X-JerseyGuy

    Now maybe he will get a clue! It's time Newt! Give It Up! You Don't Have A Chance In He// Anyway! Well that's about the only place he will be going!

    June 9, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  10. Rosslaw

    I understand the final straw was Newt telling his staff that they had to give him b**wjobs as part of their official duties.

    June 9, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  11. indydave

    Stick a fork in him – he's done.

    What's that? His top advisers quit? Well, all the better; I was just saying that thing about the fork 'cos I like the thought of sticking a fork in that pompous ideologue.

    June 9, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  12. jefffbo

    Newt, in case you read this,,,,YOU ARE TO LITTLE to be a president so run along.

    June 9, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  13. Scarf

    If Gingrich was running against Al Sharpton I'd still vote Sharpton even as a conservative. When is this joke candidate going to smell the coffee and ditch the ridiculousness of running for that which he has zero chance of winning? What next, Palin as his running mate?

    June 9, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  14. Christopher

    Resignations are never a good sign. I wonder what that means regarding the recent resignation of Obama's top economic advisor?

    June 9, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  15. Ed

    hey Newter – how does it feel to have people walk out on you when you are on your (political) deathbed? What goes around...

    June 9, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  16. Chetan

    haha get out of here Newt, stop trying, you have no chance of winning the Republican nomination

    I'm from Georgia and I'm saying that

    June 9, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  17. James M

    Personally, I was kind of surprised by Newt's first few campaign functions. I felt like he made some really great points on medicare and partisan bias in legislation, but then he quickly walked all of it back out of fear of losing the GOP base.

    This "reorganization" either marks the end of his candidacy, or the start of Gingrich running as a what he really is - an incredibly intelligent politician who you may not agree with, but can be sure doesn't form his decisions on a whim.

    June 9, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  18. faboge

    Its Gingrich who should have stepped aside! Nobody takes so many sides of the same issue like this old opportunist! Cant stand his ass!

    June 9, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  19. Doug

    I can only imagine what a creep Newt is to work for !

    June 9, 2011 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  20. CaptainObvious

    The campaign manager quit after less than a month. Methinks this spells trouble for Newt's chances.

    June 9, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  21. Effero

    They simply realized he has no shot at getting the nomination. Nice to see huge egos shot and brought back to real life.

    June 9, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  22. Jack Be Humble

    I hope Mr. Gingrich runs as an independent. I respect his opinion regarding the Republican budget, and I believe that the majority of indipendents are with me on that.

    June 9, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  23. fofo

    lol, the more intelligent rats are vacating the Republican sunken ship.

    June 9, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  24. Mohamed

    One less republican presidential candidate. Herman Cain (glorified pizza boy) your next to have your campaign breakdown.

    June 9, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  25. Bubba

    NEWS FLASH: Gingrich tried to tweet his Weiner in order to stay relevant, and was unable to find it.

    June 9, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13