Just a day after he returned from vacation--and only a month into his presidential campaign--Newt Gingrich's senior staff has resigned "en masse," the Associated Press reports. Politico's Jonathan Martin says Rob Johnson, Sam Dawson, Dave Carney, Katon Dawson, and Craig Schoenfeld have all quit the campaign. The Des Moines Register's Jennifer Jacobs reports that all six members of Gingrich's paid Iowa staff has quit too.
The Associated Press' David Espo says the resignations--which include staff in early voting states South Carolina, Iowa, and New Hampshire--leaves Gingrich's "hopes of winning the Republican nomination in tatters." Nevertheless, "Gingrich told the group he intends to stay in the race, they added."
Among those who quit are Gingrich's campaign manager, Johnson, and his spokesman, Rick Tyler. Carney and Johnson both used to worked for Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Ben Smith says the resignation of Carney, who headed Gingrich's New Hampshire effort, means "the Perry buzz is going to get louder." (Carney later emailed Smith to say, "This is totally unrelated to Rick Perry." On the other hand, Republican consultants tell the National Review's Jim Geraghty, "Perry is in this thing sooner rather than later--these guys aren't jumping off without somewhere else to land.")
"When the campaign and the candidate disagree on the path, they've got to part ways," Tyler told The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza and Karen Tumulty. The exodus came during a meeting in Gingrich's office Thursday. Newt's Greek cruise caused staffers to wonder whether he would really "commit time to the grassroots," Tyler told the Post.
Martin reports Gingrich wanted to campaign by performing well in primary debates and using technology, while his staff thought he needed to combine those tactics with traditional grassroots campaigning. "After his bumpy start, rumors began to circulate in the political community the former House speaker’s days as a candidate were numbered," Martin writes. But the collective decision by his high command to quit makes it likely that his demise will be hastened."
Gingrich's staff vigorously defended him even after the rough start to his campaign, when he criticized Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to overhaul Medicare as "right-wing social engineering" and then quickly retracted. Tyler wrote a response to the Medicare flap that accused the press of being "literati" "sheep" by hyping the story.
When The Daily Caller's Jonathan Strong reached Gingrich, the candidate said only, "I have nothing to say," and then hung up on the reporter.
Not long after the story of his staff's resignation broke Thursday, Gingrich wrote on Facebook, "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."