This post has been updated
Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign appears to have imploded, the day after the former House speaker returned from a two-week Mediterranean cruise, as key staffers have reportedly resigned en masse. The Associated Press reports:
Gingrich press spokesman Rick Tyler told The Associated Press that he's resigned along with campaign manager Rob Johnson, senior strategists and aides in key early primary states.
The resignation includes Gingrich's entire paid Iowa campaign team, the Des Moines Register reports.
Gingrich released the following statement 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."
Gingrich's campaign had gotten off to a bad start, largely due to his criticism of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wisc.) budget plan, which was adopted by House Republicans. Gingrich called it "right-wing social engineering" during a May 15 appearance on NCB's "Meet the Press." Gingrich would later apologize to Ryan and claim he hadn't been referring to Ryan's plan when he used those words.
The former House speaker was also mocked for his wife's large, revolving expense account at Tiffany's. He also had glitter dumped on him at a book-signing in Iowa.
Politico's Jonathan Martin has more details:
The mass resignation was, one source said, "a team decision."
"We just had a different direction in which we wanted to take the campaign," said a second source.
Gingrich was intent on using technology and standing out at debates to get traction while his advisers believed he needed to run a campaign that incorporated both traditional, grassroots techniques as well as new ideas.
Might the departure of Gingrich's aides open the door for another candidate to inherit a new campaign team?
Two of Gingrich's top aides have ties to Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), Fox News's Carl Cameron reported in an internal Fox e-mail. Perry is considering a presidential bid, though he probably would not necessarily enter as a top-tier candidate. But as Sarah Posner pointed out in May, Perry has the credentials to appeal to the religious right.
Fox's Cameron noted:
[Former Gingrich campaign manager] Rob Johnson and [former Gingrichstrategist] Dave Carney have VERY close ties to TX Gov Rick Perry who is now thinking about a run. One former Gingrich aide said at 14:50 pm eastern time there is no word of any Ex-Newt aides joining other campaigns. But that is only a matter of time.
Perry is seriously considering a bid, and his supporters are actively exploring the possibility on his behalf, Taegan Goddard points out: Texas donors have been calling D.C.-based GOP operatives seeking advice, and sources close to Perry told CBS that he is "serious" about running for president.
One of Gingrich's national co-chairs, meanwhile, has joined Tim Pawlenty's team. Former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue said, in a statement released by Pawlenty's campaign, "Tim Pawlenty is a great man, he was a phenomenal governor, and he is the person I now believe stands the greatest chance of defeating President Obama. He is the only candidate who has laid out a real plan to grow the American economy, and his track record in Minnesota is proof he's the right man for the job."
Drop-down image credit: Reuters