Newt Gingrich’s struggling presidential campaign may be entering a meltdown as an AP report claims a large group of senior aides are resigning.
Among the departed is longtime Gingrich aide Rick Tyler, known for his florid statements defending his boss, South Carolina campaign chair Katon Dawson, and his entire paid campaign staff in Iowa. But most significant may be the loss of Rob Johnson, who is closely tied to Texas Governor Rick Perry as the campaign manager for his 2010 re-election. Perry consultant Dave Carney is also quitting after signing on to run Gingrich’s efforts in New Hampshire. Perry has been publicly weighing a presidential bid despite taking himself out of the running earlier and their exit could be a sign that he is serious about entering the primaries.
[TPM SLIDESHOW: Meet The 2012 GOPers: Ex-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA)]
According to Politico, the mass resignations were coordinated to demonstrate a “different vision” for the campaign. “There is a path to victory” for Gingrich, Tyler told NBC. “But there was a dispute on what that path to victory was. Tyler, who had worked with Newt for over a decade, added that he still hopes he becomes president and has “no regrets” about their time together. Newt’s national campaign chair, former Governor Sonny Perdue, is reportedly joining the Pawlenty campaign.
It was unclear at the end of the day who was even left in Gingrich’s camp. De facto spokesman Joe DeSantis sent a one-word reply to TPM’s request for a list: “Pass.”
Aides cited a number of reasons for leaving, with some indicating anonymously to the Weekly Standard that Gingrich’s wife Callista was a prime factor. The two are returning from a two-week vacation in the Greek Isles that aides told the Standard was a demoralizing disappearance in the middle of a heated campaign. His campaign has also been nagged by questions over $250,000 in debt to Tiffany’s that his Callista reported in a disclosure form several years ago. Gingrich began his relationship with Callista as an affair and his previous wife, Marianne, broke her silence with a scathing interview on their relationship in Esquire last year.
Craig Schoenfeld, who served as executive of director Newt’s campaign in Iowa before leaving Thursday, told the Des Moines Register that Gingrich had failed to commit sufficient resources to the state.
“You have to be able to raise money to run a campaign and you have to invest time in fundraising and to campaign here in the state and I did not have the confidence that was going to be happening,” he said.
In a Facebook post shortly after the news broke, Gingrich said his candidacy would soldier on.
“I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring,” he wrote. “The campaign begins anew Sunday in Los Angeles.”
It was unclear how much of the campaign is left after the latest round of losses. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported on Thursday that Gingrich’s headquarters in Georgia— which he had never visited — appeared to be completely empty, lacking even basic furniture.
Already considered a long shot, Gingrich has collapsed in Republican polls since condemning Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan as “right wing social engineering.”
Note: This post has been updated.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.