Breaking so hard that I don’t even have a link for you yet, but Carl Cameron is reporting on Fox News as I write this that the entire senior circle — everyone, basically — is jumping ship based on “a difference of opinion” with Gingrich on the direction of the campaign. Presumably that’s not a reference to his criticism of Ryan’s Medicare plan; if it was, they would have dumped him already. It might be a reference to their exasperation at Newt taking off for a little vacation right as the campaign’s heating up.
One friend said Perry is “warming to the idea” of running and is now going through the process of deciding what it would take to launch a candidacy and whether he has the desire to endure a grueling campaign…
A Perry friend said the governor has been surprised at how much pressure from outside the state has arrived encouraging him to run, something he had not anticipated, and that too has prompted him to begin a discussion with family and close friends…
One potential hitch in any Perry planning is the fact that his long-time chief political adviser, David Carney, is now helping former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) in his presidential campaign. In addition, Rob Johnson, who managed Perry’s reelection campaign last year, is now Gingrich’s campaign manager.
But one person close to Perry said he could not imagine Carney not being at Perry’s side if the governor runs. Conversely, this person said he could not imagine Perry deciding to run if he were not certain Carney would be part of his team. As another person close to Perry said, “I don’t want to do this without Carney.”
Now he might not have to. News reports should start appearing at any moment; stand by for updates. Yesterday at Commentary, Peter Wehner predicted that Newt’s campaign wouldn’t make it to the end of the summer and might not make it to the beginning of the summer. I wonder if he heard anything through the grapevine…
Update: The AP has a story out but it’s remarkably thin on details thus far. No confirmation yet either that Carney is one of the aides who’s left, but Johnson is out and it sounds like there won’t be many others staying behind: “Gingrich press spokesman Rick Tyler told The Associated Press that he’s resigned along with campaign manager Rob Johnson, senior strategists and aides in key early primary states.”
Update: Chuck Todd confirms that Carney is now a free agent too. Over to you, Rick Perry.
Update: Bear in mind, in case any of the departed staffers point to Newt’s ill-advised vacation as the cause here, that his vacation is already over. He was back on the trail in New Hampshire last night. If they were that upset about him taking off, presumably this would have come to a head before he left and they all would have resigned shortly thereafter. Which is to say, I think the real reason they’re leaving is because Perry has a chance and Newt doesn’t.
Update: Politico has background:
“We just had a different direction in which we wanted to take the campaign,” said a second source.
Gingrich was intent on using technology and standing out at debates to get traction while his advisers believed he needed to run a campaign that incorporated both traditional, grassroots techniques as well as new ideas
One official said the last straw came when Gingrich went forward with taking a long-planned cruise with his wife last week in the Greek isles.
Less than a week ago, he was losing his home state to Herman Cain by a two-to-one margin. I don’t think “vision” was the issue here, guys. According to Politico’s sources, though, Newt’s staying in the race. All he needs is a campaign.
Update: Geraghty’s GOP sources seem to think Perry’s entry is now just a matter of time. “[T]hese guys aren’t jumping off without somewhere else to land.”
Update: Carney tells Politico, “This is totally unrelated to Rick Perry,” but obviously he’s not going to show his cards before Perry’s 100 percent committed to running. Gingrich was going nowhere and Perry could be going somewhere, so he quite logically changed horses in midstream.
Update: Newt fights on:
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.
There’s no sense quitting today with the New Hampshire debate right around the corner. He’ll show up there, try to impress, and hope he gets enough good buzz afterward to attract some new staffers. Can’t wait for the first question for him on Monday night: “Um, why are you still running?”
Update: Worse and worse: Newt’s Iowa team has quit too. It’s a full-fledged mutiny.
Update: And the dominoes keep falling. As of 3:49 p.m. today: “Texas Governor Rick Perry is ‘serious’ about making a run for the White House, sources close to Perry tell CBS News.”