June 10, 2011 in Nation/World

Key staffers leave Gingrich

Disagreements on strategy cited
Tom Hamburger Tribune Washington bureau

(Full-size photo)

WASHINGTON – The top staff of Newt Gingrich’s nascent presidential campaign abandoned their candidate Thursday, in a group resignation that followed a series of disagreements over the former House Speaker’s commitment to the GOP race.

After days of discord over how the campaign should proceed, Gingrich Thursday lost his campaign manager, Rob Johnson; his national campaign chair, Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, and his longtime aide and spokesman Rick Tyler, along with key strategists in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

The resignations renewed questions that have dogged Gingrich’s candidacy from the outset: Did the famously verbose Gingrich possess the discipline to run a campaign in which every remark would be scrutinized? Was he willing to neglect his personal empire of companies that promote his name, his books and, more recently, movies he produced with his wife, in order to campaign?

His effort has been troubled from the outset, when he came under fire for criticizing the House GOP’s proposal to replace Medicare with a voucher plan and for news that he had a credit line of as much as $500,000 at Tiffany’s, the posh jewelry store.

In recent weeks, as competitors scoured the early voting states, Gingrich took off for a two-week cruise in Greece.

Although some observers said Thursday’s news essentially ended his candidacy, Gingrich posted an announcement on Facebook pledging to continue his presidential bid.

“I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring,” Gingrich wrote. “The campaign begins anew Sunday in Los Angeles.” Gingrich will be in California for a Jewish Republican gala where he will speak on the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy.

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