His top aides met with him two weeks ago and agreed to prepare a full-time fundraising and stumping schedule for his approval — a schedule that would have demanded far more of his time than he was giving, aides confided.
But in a Wednesday meeting, Mr. Gingrich looked over the plan and in effect dismissed it, saying he would continue to focus on giving speeches to large, wealthy audiences as his main method of raising money.
He flew to New Hampshire later Wednesday. When he returned Thursday, he met again with two of the top staffers — Mr. Johnson and Mr. Dawson — and told them he wasn’t going to change. That decision was what the senior staff had collectively agreed two weeks ago would be the signal for their exit.
Well-paid, full-time Gingrich campaign staff in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina have long felt underutilized and resentful that they were being paid to do nothing while the clock was ticking on the candidate for whom they had chosen to work.
All told, 16 aides quit Thursday, including the entire full-time Iowa staff.
Inside the campaign, Mr. Gingrich was known to ignore advice from his team. He also chose to vacation at a crucial time in his campaign and had dismissed the Medicare-reform plan of a fellow Republican, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, as “right-wing social engineering.”
“The campaign was basically a dysfunctional mess, with Callista at one time vetoing commercial air travel for her and her husband on the campaign trail. He thinks he can win the nomination his way, but she’s the bigger problem,” a senior adviser confided.
The universal staff complaint — surprising given Mr. Gingrich’s long political career — was his refusal to campaign full-time. “He was spending time instead on his other projects,” an aide said.
Mr. Tyler said he doesn’t think the resignations will derail the Gingrich bid. “He’s a tough guy, and he can still win, and I hope he does,” he said.
“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,” Mr. Gingrich said in a statement emailed to reporters after news about the resignations broke.
Advisers expect him to give the two major speeches he had set for this month — excerpts of which were shared with The Times.
The first will be Sunday at the Republican Jewish Federation gala in Los Angeles, where the candidate will outline a proposed overhaul of the State Department, including the Foreign Service and the Agency for International Development.
“We must readily see the president’s policies for what they are: the deliberate appeasement of Arab dictators, and worse, the deliberate appeasement of terrorist groups like Hamas, all at the risk of the destruction of Israel and the defeat of the United States,” a speech excerpt reads. “These policies represent a sharp break from the post-World War II political consensus of providing unwavering support to the state of Israel.”
Later this month, Mr. Gingrich plans to give a “major speech,” an aide confided, on reforming the Federal Reserve.