Gingrich’s Campaign Staff Resigns En Masse. Analysis: He’s Toast.
Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich’s senior campaign staff has resigned en masse. According to Politico, at least six major Republican staffers, including Gingrich’s campaign manager, left the embattled nominee today. What led him to this point? Where can he go from here?
You could almost pity Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House and architect of the 1994 Republican Congressional takeover, who opened his campaign for his party’s nomination by daring to attack Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan’s proposal to reform MediCare as “social engineering” on Meet The Press.
To Republicans, this was like what happened with Democrats when Joe Biden opened his 2008 campaign by calling Barack Obama the “first mainstream African-American who is bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” only it’s about ten thousand times worse because Paul Ryan’s plan is an actual policy issue that the conservative base gets frothing mad about. Voters in ever-so-polite Iowa even hounded Gingrich about it at his campaign stops.
Then news came out about his wife’s up-to-$500,000 line of credit at Tiffany’s. Then people remembered that this was his third wife, the terrifying-looking woman he was having an affair with while impeaching President Clinton. Then they remembered that he served divorce papers on his first wife while she was in the hospital dying of cancer. His defense for these things was that he “worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.” To deal with this bad press and unpleasant reminiscing, Gingrich went on a two-week vacation to the Greek Isles.
But, you know. Maybe primary voters could let bygones be bygones. After all, Gingrich was supposed to be the intellectual powerhouse of his party, a “one-man think tank,” according to the Washington Post. In a Republican Party that’s looking desperately for a candidate with the right mix of glitz and gritty policy, could the guy who wrote both the Contract With America and a book called To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular Socialist Machine be the one to thread the needle, so to speak?
Well, his own staff has come up with an answer to this: “nope.” Six senior campaign staffers have left Gingrich, according to Politico, protesting what they called his “different vision” for the campaign. The defections include campaign manager, his spokesman, and guys like Katon Dawson, former head of the South Carolina Republican Party who ran for RNC chair in 2009. When all your important Republicans desert your campaign for the Republican nomination, that is an A-1 Bad Sign (TM).
What does this mean? On a political level, any number of interesting things. Ben Smith over at Politico thinks it means Texas Governor Rick Perry is getting into the race, since some of Gingrich’s former people are Perry loyalists. Gingrich is signed up for the first Republican primary debate in New Hampshire next Monday, which he may try to use as a lifeline by giving some kind of electrifying performance, though with Herman Cain around that’s going to be a tall order.
Practically, Gingrich is toast. In a field that voters are already marginally unhappy about, he’s stumbled repeatedly, and, more importantly, upset fundraisers. Unlike the phoenix-like McCain campaign of 2007-8, Gingrich doesn’t have affinity with a bellwether early-contest state like New Hampshire to peg his hopes to. He’d have to go for broke on, say, the Nevada caucuses before Super Tuesday rolls around.
But Gingich’s massive self-regard and tone-deafness to new ways of campaigning he wants to master (announcing his campaign via Twitter, for example, which denied him a key in-person rally opportunity) might just let him plug along, Weiner-like, until someone turns out the lights for him. In political campaigns, that happens when you run out of money. Gingrich hasn’t raised much, and the field’s about to get more crowded. We’ll probably see the last of him fairly shortly.
Of course, if he staggers along all the way to Iowa, I’m pretty sure he can look forward to similar fortunes as those of Democratic candidate Chris Dodd in 2008, who finished in seventh… just behind “uncommitted.”
More Faster Analysis: Are Serious Republican Candidates Giving up on 2012?
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