Newt Gingrich: Campaign 'begins anew'

June 10, 2011 at 4:00 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 10 (UPI) -- GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said his campaign "begins anew" in Los Angeles, despite the resignations en masse of nearly two-dozen top advisers.

But some strategists wondered if the campaign could withstand the defections at a time when it was struggling to raise money, recruit staff and be seen as a serious campaign.

The Wall Street Journal said the desertions "could prove fatal."

"I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring," Gingrich wrote on Facebook Thursday afternoon after his campaign manager, senior strategists and aides in early primary states -- including the top-to-bottom slate of aides in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Washington and Georgia -- quit.

"The campaign begins anew Sunday in Los Angeles," added Gingrich's Facebook post, which had about 500 "like" endorsements early Friday, a United Press International check indicated.

Gingrich is scheduled to deliver a foreign-policy speech in Los Angeles Sunday at an event sponsored by the Republican Jewish Coalition. He also intends to take part in a Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire Monday night.

Gingrich's office had no further response to the resignations, which included national campaign co-chairman former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, who joined the GOP presidential campaign of former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Other top desertions included those by campaign manager Rob Johnson, strategists Sam Dawson and Dave Carney and South Carolina consultant Katon Dawson.

The shake-up was prompted, at least in part, by the decision by Gingrich and his wife, Callista, to take a two-week vacation that included a cruise to the Greek isles at a time when the presidential candidate was stumbling, aides who were part of the exodus -- Greek for "way out" or "mass departure" -- told several news organizations.

When the former House speaker's senior strategists confronted him Thursday, Gingrich defended his holiday as a chance to "get away and think," aides said.

The aides then chastised him for lacking the discipline to run a focused presidential campaign that could overcome rising doubts about his candidacy, they said.

Many Republicans had long seen Gingrich as something of a vanity candidate who didn't expect to win the party's nomination, but saw the race as an opportunity to draw attention to his policy ideas, books and documentaries, The New York Times said.

For instance, in New Hampshire Wednesday, Gingrich didn't introduce himself to voters as a candidate, but instead promoted a documentary on Pope John Paul II he'd made with his wife, the Times said.

The loss of virtually his entire team is certain to scare off donors, the Journal said. Some Gingrich advisers said campaign money was already tight.

Gingrich, 67, faces the daunting task of reassembling a campaign organization from scratch 30 days after announcing his candidacy, which got off to a rough start.

Shortly after his May 11 announcement, he faced a barrage of conservative criticism after calling the House Republican plan to overhaul Medicare "radical change" and a form of "social engineering."

He also raised hackles when a financial disclosure revealed he carried $250,000 to $500,000 in revolving debt at Tiffany & Co. to buy jewelry for his wife.

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