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. jo an

    Did he tweet their wives????

    June 9, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. Josh

    This is a serious blow for Newt and the several other people who think he should be president.

    June 9, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. redisgreat

    hahahahahahaha what a loser.

    June 9, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  4. GOP = Greed Over People

    Yeah the salamander is sunning himself on some rock in the Mikanos in a bikini thong(yeah, I know the image is also now seared onto my retina as well) looking for love interest number 4 and his campaign staff wanted him to actually prepare for running for the Presidency.

    More proof newt is only in the GOP run to sell books about the experience.

    June 9, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  5. bill

    Rats fleeing the bloated and sinking SS Gingrich

    June 9, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  6. nia

    Can you spell P-E-R-R-Y ?

    June 9, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  7. callmeroger

    Newt's campaign is crashing and burning, yet he will still attend the NH debate. Somehow this makes him a better candidate than Gary Johnson? Excluding Gov. Johnson is wrong. I'm not saying he's going to win. You don't even have to agree with anything he says. The only way out of the mess we're in is through educated voters. Having the media pick and choose who is seen and heard is a big step in the wrong direction.

    June 9, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  8. Nick

    Interesting that "the direction of the campaign they sought and Newt's vision . . . were incompatible." I'd be fascinated to know where their divide was.

    June 9, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  9. Red Pison

    Ahahahaha, it's over for this con man.

    June 9, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  10. John B

    Of course...they want to be part of a winning team....not a waste of time.

    June 9, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  11. HEY!

    Well things are goingi so smoothly already. If he can't even manage his own team, why should he be president?


    June 9, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  12. skarphace

    Republicans have a decision to make: do they want to take a stand, or do they want a chance to win in 2012. If they want to take a stand, they will nominate a TP candidate like Pawlenty, Santorum, or Paul. If they want a chance to win they will elect a moderate like Romney or Huntsman.

    Either way, it won't be Gingrinch. This is why his advisors quit. Nobody likes being associated with a clear loser.

    June 9, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  13. Wobbles

    When everyone but your dog leaves your campaign you might want to reconsider how badly you really want to lose a primary.

    June 9, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  14. William Marlowe

    They quit because Calista was trying to tell everyone how to do their jobs.

    June 9, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  15. Bill

    So even this dude's handpicked team bailed on him? Ok, so with that in mind, this guy is expecting people to vote for him for FREE? He was PAYING THEM and they still bailed. LOL

    June 9, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  16. LuvAmerica

    The last sentence says "Republicans didn't fare well in the 1998 elections, and Gingrich stepped down." Didn't he step down because of a sex scandal? At a time when the Republicans are going after Anthony Weiner, who's crime is " lewd texting", could the reason be that it had something to do with a sex scandal.

    On a side note, isn't the media misleading the public about the whole episode about Anthony Weiner. Is this a "sex scandal"? Shouldn't he had some kind of sexual contact for it to be a "sex scandal"?

    Just curious, what the media is trying to do here? Bury Anthony Weiner for a lesser crime, when others have done very very bad things?

    June 9, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  17. mkinsel

    Not even his own campaign staff give him a vote of confidence, but he thinks he win the presidency?

    June 9, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  18. HawHaw

    The salamander couldnt get elected to clean my cats litter box.

    June 9, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  19. Nick

    Additionally, it is one thing for one campaign staffer to resign. It is quite another for five to leave – especially when those five serve such important posts. The first Republican debate hasn't even begun and already Newt Gingrich will have to re-examine his entire campaign.

    June 9, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  20. Chris

    I bet they found out he's already working on his next wife.

    June 9, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  21. once upon a horse

    can't say I blame them. Newt has little to NO chance of winning the GOP nomination for 2012 and these folk probabaly have something better to do with their time.

    June 9, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  22. clarke

    Well isn't that interesting. Maybe he should rethink his run or bid or what ever. Retire from the rat race and go enjoy some Island some where.

    June 9, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  23. tj

    Newt needs money.

    June 9, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |

    Many people who were hoping Newt's campaign would collapse in complete humiliation just like this, because its so much more entertaining than a slow fade to obscurity.

    Unfortunately, if his campaign collapses now, we will be denied the outrageous damage he'll do to himself, his family, and his party of the next year or so. I for one, hopes his ugly hypocrisy allows him to hang on for a while.

    June 9, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  25. vic , nashville ,tn

    Now we see new version of GOP (actually 170years old version with new faces)

    Newt this is call Karma you advocate the new version of GOP past two years in FOX now the same version hunting you


    June 9, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
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