Gingrich de­cries a ‘hit job’ on his cam­paign by ex-staffers

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY DAVID ELDRIDGE

Em­bat­tled 2012 GOP pres­i­den­tial con­tender Newt Gingrich said June 15 that crit­i­cisms lev­eled by for mer staffers amounted to a “hit job,” and he vowed to press on with a new, leaner cam­paign fo­cused on so­cial me­dia.

“The idea that I’m just go­ing to let a bunch of paid out­side con­sul­tants do a hit job [. . . ] and I’m go­ing to fold up my tent and go home? Any­one who has ever watched my ca­reer knows that is just a silly idea,” Mr. Gingrich told The Wash­ing­ton Times-af­fil­i­ated “Amer­ica’s Morn­ing News” ra­dio pro­gram.

The Ge­or­gia Repub­li­can said his cam­paign would be bet­ter off with­out the se­nior staffers who re­signed en masse ear­lier this month and re­it­er­ated that he has no in­ten­tion of drop­ping out.

“Of course I’m staying in. John McCain ran out of money in July 2007 and stayed in and be­came the can­di­date,” he said.

Some of the de­part­ing staffers com­plained that Mr. Gingrich wasn’t do­ing enough per­son­ally to ramp up fundrais­ing ef­forts and ig­nored ad­vice against tak­ing what the staff con­sid­ered was an ill-timed Mediter­ranean va­ca­tion with his wife.

Mr. Gingrich ac­knowl­edged that the ex­o­dus had dinged the cam­paign.

“The con­sul­tants spent a tremen­dous amount of money and left, so we’re go­ing to have to spend some time re­cov­er­ing from their spend­ing,” the for­mer House speaker said. “We’ve raised more money in the last five days than we’d raised in the last three weeks. Peo­ple feel lib­er­ated, now that the con­sult­ing class has left, and we can go back to be­ing a cam­paign of ideas and a cam­paign of pos­i­tive ap­proaches.”

Mr. Gingrich said he had a fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent vi­sion of his cam­paign than that of the de­parted “con­sul­tants,” in­clud- ing cam­paign man­ager Rob John­son and cam­paign spokesman Rick Tyler, who has worked for Mr. Gingrich for more than a decade.

“We live in a coun­try where you can have an amaz­ingly ef­fec­tive grass-roots cam­paign for about 1 per­cent of what the con­sul­tants would spend,” Mr. Gingrich said. “It’s a very dif­fer­ent model, and it’s a model that re­lies on an end­less will­ing­ness to talk with the Amer­i­can peo­ple.” “Face­book is free,” he said. Mr. Gingrich dis­missed as a “smear” an ABC News re­port ques­tion­ing the ethics of pay­ments from “Re­new­ing Amer­i­can Lead­er­ship,” a char­ity founded by the for­mer speaker, to for-profit busi­nesses he also runs.

ABC re­ported the char­ity paid $220,000 to Gingrich Com­mu­ni­ca­tions for books and DVDs pro­mot­ing the Ge­or­gia Repub­li­can.

“It’s just a false­hood. Patently false. Pe­riod,” Mr. Gingrich said with­out elab­o­rat­ing.

Mr. Gingrich’s 2012 pres­i­den­tial run has been marked by con­tro­versy and mis­steps, in­clud­ing his sharp crit­i­cism in May of the Medi­care over­haul pro­posed by Rep. Paul Ryan, Wis­con­sin Repub­li­can, who is House Bud­get Com­mit­tee chair­man.

Those com­ments over­shad­owed the can­di­date’s of­fi­cial cam­paign kick­off an­nounce­ment and im­me­di­ately put Mr. Gingrich at odds with con­ser­va­tives in Wash­ing­ton and across the coun­try who have lined up be­hind the Ryan plan.

A new NBC/Wall Street Jour­nal poll re­leased June 15 shows Mr. Gingrich los­ing con­sid­er­able ground with Repub­li­can vot­ers, with his “un­fa­vor­able” rat­ing among likely Repub­li­can vot­ers jump­ing from 13 per­cent in April to 34 per­cent cur­rently.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial hopeful Newt Gingrich of Ge­or­gia speaks to the news me­dia af­ter meet­ing with small-busi­ness lead­ers in Con­cord, N.H.

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