WASHINGTON — The entire top echelon of Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign resigned on Thursday, a stunning mass exodus that left his bid for the Republican nomination in tatters. But the former House speaker vowed defiantly to remain a candidate.
“I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring,” the Gingrich said in a posting to his Facebook page. “The campaign begins anew Sunday in Los Angeles.”
NBC News confirmed the departures to Gingrich’s team, including spokesman Rick Tyler, campaign manager Rob Johnson, and strategists Dave Carney and Sam Dawson.
Tyler told NBC, “There is a path to victory … But there was a dispute on what that path to victory was.” Tyler was with the former House speaker for nearly 12 years. “I have no regrets. I admire him deeply. I hope he does become president.”
Other officials said Gingrich was informed that his entire high command was quitting in a meeting at his headquarters in Washington. They cited differences over the direction of the campaign.
“We had a different vision for victory,” Tyler told The Associated Press. “And since we couldn’t resolve that difference, I didn’t feel I could be useful in serving him.”
He said Gingrich was not allowing enough time to campaign in key states.
Carney also spoke to NBC saying, “The professional team came to the realization that the direction of the campaign they sought and Newt’s vision for the campaign were incompatible.”
Carney, who was heading up Gingrich’s efforts in New Hampshire, is former aide to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who may be mulling his own White House run. And Johnson, Gingrich’s (now former) campaign manager, ran Perry’s election bid last year.
“Nothing has changed,” Perry’s spokesman, Mark Miner, said in an interview on Thursday. “The governor is focused on the legislative session.”
I wouldn’t be so sure about that. Check out this intriguing CBS report:
With confirmation that Gingrich’s top advisers have quite en masse, this obviously means his campaign is all but done, which frankly was only a matter of time and comes as a surprise to no one. The more interesting question for 2012 is what this means for Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Sources close to Perry tell me he is now “serious” about a presidential bid. He has been talking with his big money donors for the past week, and they had a conference call on Monday to talk assembling a possible 2012 campaign.
But the rub was this: There was no way Perry would run for president without his top political consultant, Dave Carney. And it also would be nice to have his former campaign manager, Rob Johnson, on board.
Unfortunately for Perry, both of those guys were working on Gingrich 2012. Carney was advising Gingrich in New Hampshire and Johnson was Gingrich’s senior political adviser. As one top Republican strategist told me on Tuesday, the canary in the coal mine for a Perry presidential run is whether Carney would leave Newt.
Wowsers. Perry throwing his hat into the ring would really shake things up for GOP presidential wannabes. He is well-liked in conservative circles and has a distinguished political pedigree, is mostly scandal-free, and I think he’s someone who has the potential to flatten our celebrity President in the debates.
What do you think?
Update/Related – 7:10 PM: Kevin Williamson – Rick Perry Puts a Toe In