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. Todd

    This can't possibly be good for Gingrich's campaign. Oh well.

    June 9, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  2. Geoffrey Feldman

    The only thing that surprises me and then only a little is that it happened this soon. Gingrich lives in his own world emotionally, intellectually and politically. Inevitably some people found him interesting but even a ham sandwich will have some followers.

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

    WOW......Newt and Sarah Palin have something in common. Neither of them is getting the message. Maybe this wil help them. Your presence is not desired. Newt, you can go back under the rock you came out from under and Sarah can go and enroll in high school civics and history classes. There is something there for you to learn.

    June 9, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  4. SR

    I feel that I must quote Mr. Nelson Muntz "Ha Haw"

    June 9, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  5. dctwmt

    They realized he's just another right wing extremist, I'm sure....some conservatives DO have a conscience, I guess.

    June 9, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  6. Leopold

    Perhaps this doesn't really matter, as It will be difficult for Newt to surpass Mitt Romney, who despite being imperfect with respect to health care (no candidate is perfect), is in a powerful position because of his business acumen and track record with the Salt Lake City Olympics, various companies, etc. Romney is a highly capable, intelligent, knowlegeable and serious candidate with governing experience who will be a very dangerous challenge to Obama, especially if the economy continues to be this weak. If the economy stays this way or gets even weaker it is pretty much a forgone conclusion that Mr. Obama will be gone in 2012.

    June 9, 2011 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  7. Glades2

    Politicians – time for me to run for President (lol). Seriously, though – what we need are honest, down-to-earth people (not tea part people) who still believe in an honest day's work for a day's wage – surely there must be a few people still around like that who could run for the office – politicians and social celebrities notwithstanding...

    June 9, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  8. Katphish

    These Republicans embarrass
    the GOP, I'm an ironweed Republican for GOP reform. Leave medicare alone, and we are long overdue some form of socialized medicine. Also,someone needs to pay some taxes, and it is insane to imagine our labor force can compete with Chinese Communist Slave labor! This is all by design within the current and past Democrat and Republican Party.

    June 9, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  9. John Phelan

    I guess no one is ready for a "Newt Generation"

    June 9, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  10. bdgfn

    Gee, I wonder what they already know that we will find out about in a gew weeks or months?

    June 9, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  11. abby1

    He will be withdrawing from the presidential race soon. The conservative Republican movement has drastically changed since he left office. His brand of conservatism might be different from the current brand of conservatism. He cannot stray away from today's conservative agenda.....there is just no room for other views.

    June 9, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  12. Aimleft

    No, he is best known for pompously jumping all over Clinton while having his own affair at the same time. And he did it twice. And left a wife with cancer. All the while preaching to others about moral superiority. Just like all the other GOP candidates (only he is most definitely one of the worst) his campaign is dead before it even starts.

    June 9, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  13. Proof Guy

    But if he doesn't run for president, how will we ever know what kind of horrible mistakes he'd make in the White House?

    June 9, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  14. Mike in NC

    Who cares! He didn't stand a chance from the git go! I wonder what made the advisor bail out. One down out of crowded field. Make room for a real leader, Howard Cain....run Howard, Run!

    June 9, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  15. Jamie from Riverside

    Perhaps Newt would fare better as a spokesman for Tiffany's or luxury cruise lines than as the leader of the free world.

    June 9, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  16. Arthette Walker

    I'm trying real hard not to have a terrific headache. The political climate is just like a circus on steroids.

    June 9, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  17. cara

    It's a one word conclusion and we have all come to this same assessment of the man and the message, and the party he is affiliated with: Bankrupt.

    June 9, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. samuel g bogale

    It is not a surprise the former speaker is not capable to win a national election he should go back to fox news that is the only good quality he has

    June 9, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  19. George

    Poor Mr. Gingrich a non-starter that non started but will start again. Just what the Republicans need.

    June 9, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. D.Wilson

    How could he have ever been serious about running.. he's the only one that likes Newt Gingrich.. there won't be anyone to stand against obama.. that can beat him.. the republicans don't have a white horse candidate.. Romney is a good man I believe but no where capable of overcoming the stain and darkness his party has placed on Americans and our country.. save your money Republicans.. use it to clean up your party and fix that tea party mess.. find some dignity and come back in 2016 and offer someone to the public after your party has strengthened some and put behind them the awful mess and inaccurate quotings that so litter your rhetoric. You destroyed our economy and way of life and big business still post 34 billion in earnings on average in each oil company the same year we all lost our homes and jobs.. we won't let you be in charge for awhile to come.. it's too dangerous for Joe Citi

    June 9, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  21. lefty avenger

    Thank Goodness that Gingrich and his GOP are tanking out again. How much evil can they still commit?

    June 9, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  22. bhavin

    I wonder what took them so long to realize that they were campaigning for an idiot...

    June 9, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  23. John

    I am no fan of Newt, but if I were him I would be saying "Good Riddens". If not now before the campaign really heats up, then when? I did not realize the Campaign Manager needed to approve vacations. Isn't the Election season long enough? It is practically non-stop already. Maybe we should lock up all the politicos until 6 months before the election so we can have a vacation!

    June 9, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  24. Frank

    They resigned because even they could not stand being around the hypocrocy of Newt

    June 9, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  25. Cats Meow

    Now there's a big shock. He is like the Titantic...never had a chance.

    June 9, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
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