Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign, always a long shot, may be over. The top leadership in the campaign, at both the national and state levels, quit en masse Thursday.
Sources close to the campaign say that it has been a disorganized mess for weeks, with Gingrich offering no direction and not taking the advice of his aides. With no sense that the candidate wanted to do the hard work necessary to win, one source said it was foolish to work long hours, sacrifice time with family, and beg friends for campaign cash if the candidate himself wasn't committed.
Sources say that Gingrich intends to stay in the campaign, what's left of it. Indeed, on his Facebook page, Gingrich posted: "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."
In Iowa this week the talk was of Gingrich's decision to take a vacation while his competitors were working hard campaigning and trying to raise money. When Will Rogers, a longtime Gingrich booster in the state, resigned, local GOP veterans speculated that the campaign might be coming apart.
Campaign manager Rob Johnson, spokesman Rick Tyler, and other top officials spoke with Gingrich over the last several days about setting a clear direction for the future— and that's when everything broke down. "There was a difference of opinion on what needed to be done going forward," says Craig Schoenfeld, Gingrich's Iowa strategist, who also resigned.
Johnson ran Texas Gov. Rick Perry's campaign last year, and Dave Carney, one of Gingrich's top strategists, used to work for Perry as well. Carney says his move was "totally unrelated to Rick Perry," but their departure will only serve to increase speculation about the governor's entry into the presidential race.
As for Gingrich, Schoenfeld said that he "needs to be surrounded by those folks who share his vision for the campaign. Those folks—whoever they may be—should be a part [of his campaign] going forward."
Gingrich's former aides, meanwhile, may now get a chance to take a vacation of their own. And if Gingrich's campaign stays on its current course, he may find his vacation calendar opening up sooner rather than later.