Gingrich scrambles to save campaign

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) sought to regroup Friday after a destabilizing round of resignations yesterday by top staff.

Gingrich sought to quell speculation that his bid for the Republican nomination was all but dead, vowing to go ahead as planned with appearances set for Sunday in Los Angeles and Monday at a GOP debate in New Hampshire.

ADVERTISEMENT
"The fact is I'm prepared to go out and campaign very intensely," Gingrich said Friday in a brief statement captured by ABC.

The former Speaker sought in an email message to reassure supporters that he wouldn't drop out.

"Because the renewal of America can only begin with you, this will be your campaign," Gingrich said. "As someone who has been in public life for nearly forty years, I know full well the rigors of campaigning for public office. I will endure them."

Those statements follow the departures of a number of top aides on Thursday, including campaign manager Rob Johnson, longtime spokesman Rick Tyler and top advisers in key primary states. The resignations, which both Gingrich and the aides have attributed to a difference in campaigning philosophy, threaten to cripple the nascent campaign before the 2012 cycle has gotten under way in earnest.

The appearance on Sunday, before a group of Jewish Republicans, will lend some insight into how Team Gingrich has reconstituted itself. But the event on Monday, a CNN debate in New Hampshire in which many top contenders for the nomination will participate, will present a real test for Gingrich, who's vowed to participate and may likely face questions about the resignations. 

But there's still a great deal of uncertainty behind the scenes at Gingrich's campaign; it's unclear who's running the campaign, or in what capacity, even to Republicans who have sought to work with Gingrich.

Gingrich stuck by his guns when it came to his campaigning style; aides were said to have pushed the former Speaker to campaign more aggressively on the ground, while the former Speaker preferred a less conventional approach. His recent, two-week vacation to the Greek isles did little to quell internal frustration.

"Let me just say that there is a fundamental strategic difference between the traditional consulting community and the kind of campaign I want to run," he said at his availability Friday. "Now, we'll find out over the next year who's right."

Outsider opinion might have just as much to do with rendering that verdict. Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) jumped ship from Gingrich's campaign to join former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R).

"I think his campaign is in real trouble," said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) on local public television. "Obviously he got off to a bad start and then he took a big vacation, and I think that was a big mistake, and now I think a lot of the staff has just kind of had it, and so whether this is the end for the campaign or not I don't know, but it doesn't look very good."

But Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) reaffirmed his commitment to the Gingrich campaign, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that, "When the going gets rough, I don’t cut and run on my friends. Whether he stays in the race is his decision, not mine, and I will support whatever decision he makes."

Gingrich is also still slated as of now to appear later this month at a fundraiser in Georgia with Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.).