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. Kev

    Maybe Newt gingrich is no longer a neocon.

    June 9, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  2. Mtnmedic

    Hey Newt, why not you see if Bristol Palin is available for the Campaign Manager job? Then you can truly run the DERP campaign.

    June 9, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  3. standingwave

    Apparently those closest to him don't think he's much of a leader.

    June 9, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  4. pawlenty

    why would they stick with him when he has zero chance of winning? they are going to join a winner!

    June 9, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  5. Whatever

    Will be even funnier if they go work for Palin!! LMBO at the thought....

    June 9, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  6. John

    HA! If this was a thoroughbred race, he'd be taken out back... makes you wonder what "differences" these crew had with their fearless leader.

    June 9, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  7. foreign traveler

    Newt,
    Their resignations are a subtle hint that you have a poorer chance than a snowball in H**L.

    June 9, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  8. XWngLady

    Oh, but is this the man that had so much to say recently about people moving from the Obama administration? What was that Newt? I'm sorry, I didn't hear you...You don't even have an administration yet, and people are already jumping your ship

    June 9, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  9. Bluemax77

    Thank God..!!

    June 9, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  10. LegendRx

    And they all fall down!

    June 9, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  11. FRANK - LAS VEGAS

    Newt will have one of the shortest presidential campaigns in history.

    June 9, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. RF

    They probably got tired of this hypocrite blow-hard-

    June 9, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  13. JadeRose

    That'll do, Newt. That'll do.

    June 9, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. jon

    This guy has ZERO chance in 2012. Join the crowd – with the rest of the Republicans – who are all goofy candidates.

    June 9, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  15. Melanie

    Newt is too busy trying to keep high-dollar home-wrecker wife happy. He's not worried about America- too busy at Tiffany's and the Greek isles to care about ordinary Americans!!! If he's vacationing now wait til he gets into the white house!!!!!!

    June 9, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  16. TomG

    Oh no! Please tell me there aren't any male-genital pics out there that Newt has sent out online so his staff members are jumping ship before it becomes public knowledge! I can't think of anyone who'd want to see those......well, other than Breitbart. Sounds like he must have a whole collection of pics like that.

    June 9, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  17. yankees

    not surprised. his own people can't stand his antics.

    June 9, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  18. Dave

    Bye, Newt! Please retire and call it a good, corrupt run.

    June 9, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  19. Ace

    His campaign staffers found out he'd been seeing another campaign staff . . .

    June 9, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  20. Joe

    that didnt take long

    June 9, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  21. Agnim

    Ha ha ha! lol
    It's called karma.

    Newt is lucky to not have had his supporters quit on him, in the way that the heartless Newt quit on his sick wife on her hospital bed. lol

    June 9, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  22. Ray

    isn't it a little early for that?

    June 9, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  23. mjsouth

    Do this guy ever think about anything but himself?????

    June 9, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  24. Stupidscript

    Wow. It's hard to imagine what sort of "difference" their visions for the campaign might have been. I mean, how do you sign on to work in NEWT GINGRICH's campaign without a fairly firm concept of how he plans on running? At this point, it sound like he might be insisting on something that the rest find ... unbelievably ... too outrageous to support. What could that be? Hmmm.

    June 9, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  25. Larry L

    Rats leaving a sunk ship.

    June 9, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
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