Top staffers to Newt Gingrich’s campaign resign

Holly Bailey
June 9, 2011

In a major blow to Newt Gingrich's presidential hopes, senior advisers to his 2012 campaign resigned en masse today, citing strategic differences.

The staffers include Rick Tyler, a longtime political adviser and close friend to Gingrich who has worked for the former House speaker for years, as well as Rob Johnson, a former longtime aide to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who had been hired to manage Gingrich's campaign.

According to the Associated Press's Dave Espo, the group announced their resignations to Gingrich in a meeting earlier today. In a message on Facebook, Gingrich insisted he plans to stay in the 2012 race. "I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring," the message read. "The campaign begins anew Sunday in Los Angeles."

Tyler, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Ticket, told the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza staffers were concerned about Gingrich's commitment to the campaign.

"When the campaign and the candidate disagree on the path, they've got to part ways," Tyler told the Post.

Reached by phone by a reporter from The Daily Caller, Gingrich replied, "I have nothing to say."

The staff defections are the latest major blow to Gingrich's presidential aspirations. Just days after he launched his 2012 bid, the former speaker alienated many Republicans by criticizing a Medicare proposal floated by Rep. Paul Ryan. That controversy—combined with embarrassing reports about a pricey credit line Gingrich once held with Tiffany's—prompted the former GOP lawmaker's poll numbers to sink among GOP voters.

Last week, Gingrich was off the radar, after he and his wife decided to take a previously unannounced cruise to Greece. The trip reportedly irked the staff because of its lousy timing, according to Tyler. Gingrich returned to the campaign trail only yesterday, adding a hastily arranged campaign stop in New Hampshire.

The Gingrich exodus would appear to help Perry's potential 2012 bid. Johnson and longtime Perry strategist Dave Carney had been working for Gingrich, but both resigned today and are likely to go to back to work for the Texas governor as he considers a White House run.

In an interview with the New Hampshire Union-Leader's John DiStaso, Carney says there was a "fundamental disagreement" between Gingrich and his staff over how to run the campaign. "You can't have a big political staff with a low-budget campaign," he said.

(Photo of Gingrich: Cheryl Senter/AP)