Strategic differences? As opposed to … what, exactly? Newt Gingrich attempts to bounce back from the rather embarrassing predicament of having the people who worked for him revoke their endorsements with their feet:
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Friday blamed a mass exodus from his campaign team on a “strategic” disagreement with staff and pledged to step up a campaign aimed at unifying Americans.
The former House of Representatives speaker’s hopes of winning the 2012 Republican presidential nomination suffered a body blow on Thursday when his campaign manager, spokesman and senior strategist abandoned the already sputtering campaign.
Leaders of his operations in the early voting states of New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina and Gingrich’s home state of Georgia also resigned.
Gingrich spun it as a conflict between the consultancy establishment and his non-traditional campaign preferences:
“There is a fundamental strategic difference between the traditional consulting community and the kind of campaign I want to run. Now we’ll find out over the next year who’s right,” Gingrich told reporters in a video recorded by ABC News.
“I’m prepared to go out and to campaign very intensely but I want a campaign on ideas and on solutions and I want to do it in a way that brings Americans together,” he added.
That might make sense, except for one small detail. Who hired the people from the “traditional consulting community”? Hint: it wasn’t the consultants who hired themselves. Gingrich picked these people himself, at least at the very top. Were consultants running the state campaigns, too? Who hired them? And doesn’t that go to judgment? If Gingrich selected an entire team that didn’t fit his vision of the campaign, then the problem starts with the candidate rather than the staff.
The departing staffers have all hinted that Gingrich’s decision to go on vacation just a couple of weeks after his announcement had them questioning his commitment to spend the energy needed on actual campaigning, including all of the retail politicking that goes along with it. Gingrich should have scheduled his entry into the race after his vacation, not before — especially since there was no rush to declare at this stage. Gingrich’s reply today suggests that he believes he can shrug off retail politicking with just a series of “ideas and solutions.” That sounds quite a bit like the Fred Thompson campaign in 2007, which ended up running out of gas within a matter of weeks (although a late start also contributed to that failure).
Like it or not, a presidential campaign requires a 24/7 commitment to the race, and retail politicking that helps promote the ideas and solutions as well as asks voters for their support. Taking a two-week vacation two weeks after announcing an official candidacy doesn’t speak too well for “intensity.” We haven’t seen a successful front-porch presidential campaign in the US in decades if not over a century, and it would take a candidate with much more personal popularity to pull it off.
Update (AP): ABC caught up to him this morning.