Newt Gingrich aides resign campaign en masse

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on 'Face the Nation,' Sunday, May 22, 2011. CBS News/Chris Usher

Newt Gingrich
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on 'Face the Nation,' Sunday, May 22, 2011.
CBS News/Chris Usher

Updated 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time

In a potential death knell for his 2012 White House bid, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's top aides have resigned en masse from his presidential campaign.

"There was a path to victory, Newt had a different path. When that happens, the people who work for the campaign have to leave," Rick Tyler, who resigned today as Gingrich's spokesman, told CBS News.

In addition to Tyler, Gingrich's campaign manager, Rob Johnson, and senior strategists and aides in important early voting states have stepped down.

Despite losing virtually his entire campaign team, Gingrich vowed not to drop out of the race in a post on Facebook.

"I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring," he said. "The campaign begins anew Sunday in Los Angeles."

Sources told CBS News that Gingrich's campaign has effectively been in collapse. There has been no clear direction, they said, and no clear plan to the nomination had been worked out. They also said Gingrich was refusing to take the advice of his staff. 

Why all of Newt Gingrich's campaign advisers resigned

Unnamed officials told the Associated Press that Gingrich was informed in a recent meeting that his entire campaign brain trust was effectively quitting.

Gingrich was hammered by fellow Republicans for deeming Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to transform Medicare, which has been backed by the vast majority of Republicans, "right-wing social engineering," a comment he later tried to walk back. (It prompted one angry voter to confront Gingrichin video that might well be remembered as the low point of his campaign.) Gingrich was also stung by the revelation that he had owed up to $500,000 to Tiffany jewelry company.

Gingrich's recent decision to go on vacation after his disastrous campaign kickoff angered many of his staffers, and became something of a joke among Republicans in the first-in-the-nation voting state of Iowa.  

Gingrich is scheduled to be on stage at a Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire Monday, and speak at breakfast with local business leaders Tuesday morning in Concord, New Hampshire.

The person for whom the news has perhaps the most significance (other than Gingrich) is Texas governor Rick Perry, who has been considering a run. He has been talking with his big money donors for the past week, and held a conference call two days ago to talk assembling a possible 2012 campaign.

The main stumbling block? Perry was unlikely to run for president without his top political consultant, Dave Carney, or his former campaign manager, Rob Johnson, on board. Both had been working for Gingrich. Now they are not.

Sources close to Perry tell CBS News he is now "serious" about a presidential bid.

Perry spokesman Mark Miner downplayed today's Gingrich shakeup and what it means for his boss.

"Today's events don't change anything," Miner said. Perry's thoughts on running "are the same today as they were yesterday."

There is "no campaign in Austin now," but he "is thinking about [a run]." Still, Perry's focus continues to be on the current legislative session.

Miner was "not aware" if Perry had discussions with Johnson or Carney, and that he would "not comment on any private conversations he may or may not have had."

With reporting from CBS News' Jan Crawford, Rob Hendin, Bonney Kapp, and John Dickerson.

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