Newt Gingrich’s bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination got off to a rough start, and since then things haven’t gotten much better for the former House speaker.
The latest blow to his nascent campaign occurred Thursday, when a half dozen of his senior aides resigned from their posts on his 2012 team. Joining in on the mass exodus were Gingrich's five remaining paid Iowa campaign staffers, leaving the GOP hopeful without boots on the ground in the early caucus state.
The Associated Press first reported the story, and Politico quickly followed with a list of the senior staff who have departed: campaign manager Rob Johnson, strategists Sam Dawson and Dave Carney, spokesman Rick Tyler, and consultants Katon Dawson and Craig Schoenfeld.
Schoenfield, who was Gingrich's top aide in Iowa, then broke the news to the Des Moines Register that the five other paid Iowa staffers were also heading for the exits.
“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,” Schoenfeld told the paper.
Their departures are a blow to Gingrich for a number of reasons, the most obvious being that he’s losing a significant chunk of his campaign infrastructure. But presidential campaigns are nearly as much about public perception as they are about execution, particularly this early in the game, and the mass exit is likely to spark another round of stories about the campaign’s early struggles.
Gingrich found himself in the news for the wrong reasons last month after he angered conservatives by calling Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to reform Medicare “right-wing social engineering.” Only days later Gingrich was again put on the defensive when news broke that at one point he owed at least a quarter of a million dollars to the upscale jewelry store Tiffany and Co.