- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 9, 2011

His campaign already reeling from self-inflicted blows, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich found his 2012 White House hopes hit by yet another devastating setback Thursday when several senior campaign staffers abruptly quit following a long-brewing dispute over scheduling and fundraising.

The Georgia Republican immediately vowed to stay in the race, but he will now have to do so without his campaign manager, his chief campaign strategist, his top spokesman and top aides overseeing operations in such critical early-primary states as New Hampshire and South Carolina.

“The scheduling I saw did not look like the path to victory,” former Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler told The Washington Times. “I’ve left because Newt has a different idea about how to go forward.

“When campaigns and candidates have different ideas on that, people on the campaign have to leave,” said Mr. Tyler, who has worked for Mr. Gingrich for 10 years.

Bob Heckman, a longtime presidential campaign operative, said he had “never seen a mass exodus anywhere near this big or comprehensive.”

Despite strenuous objections from senior campaign staffers, Mr. Gingrich vacationed with wife Callista instead of participating in Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition conference last weekend in Washington, at which virtually all the other serious 2012 nomination contenders spoke.

Senior aides said it was Mr. Gingrich’s reluctance to devote enough time to raising money on the phone and at fundraising events around the country that sealed their decisions to quit.

Gingrich campaign manager Rob Johnson, who managed Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s re-election campaign last year, was another senior official who quit on Thursday.

A third resignation came from Sam Dawson, who served as chief strategist and senior adviser.

A critical fourth resignation came from senior adviser David Carney, also a Perry adviser.

“The professional team came to the realization that the direction of the campaign they sought and Newt’s vision for the campaign were incompatible,” Mr. Carney told The Times.

The mass resignation fueled speculation about the presidential ambitions of Mr. Perry, who has appeared in recent days to move away from statements that he wouldn’t run in 2012. Mr. Johnson and Mr. Carney retain close ties to Mr. Perry and would now be available if the governor changed his mind.

Campaign aides said the big problem was money and that Mr. Gingrich wasn’t devoting enough time to calling potential donors and asking them to write checks. Nor did he ask leading Republicans in the states to hold fundraisers for him.

It is also an irony that his wife, who was expected to be an asset in his campaign, turned out to be something of an albatross in the eyes of his staff. She ruled out certain modes of travel for herself and her husband and otherwise kept him from campaigning, senior campaign aides said.

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