Guy Benson
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The Associated Press is reporting that Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign manager, chief spokesman, and other staffers have resigned "en masse."  It's early, and details remain scarce, so stay tuned...

If these early reports are accurate, is this the coup de grace for Newt's floundering 2012 campaign?  I don't see how he recovers from this.  The question everyone is asking is, what happened to precipitate this.  [New: From what I'm hearing, senior staff had major doubts about Newt's willingness to commit to a winning strategy.  Another significant factor?  See update VI].


UPDATE - Some names have emerged:
 

POLITICO has learned that Rob Johnson, Sam Dawson, Dave Carney, Katon Dawson, Craig Schoenfeld have ALL QUIT Gingrich.
 

I've also heard that Newt's chief spokesman, Rick Tyler, is out.


UPDATE II - The Fix has more specifics, plus an intriguing note about how this bombshell may hint at another candidate entering the race:
 

Fomer House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign imploded Thursday afternoon with virtually his entire senior staff leaving en masse, according to multiple sources familiar with the moves.

“When the campaign and the candidate disagree on the path, they’ve got to part ways,” said Rick Tyler a longtime Gingrich spoksman who was among those who left the campaign today.  Tyler as well as Rob Johnson, Gingrich’s campaign manager, Dave Carney and Katon Dawson, senior strategists to the effort and media consultant Sam Dawson have all stepped aside, according to sources familiar with the move.

Carney and Johnson are longtime aides to Texas Gov. Rick Perry who has said in recent days that he is contemplating a run for president himself in 2012. The Carney and Johnson resignations will fuel speculation that Perry is moving toward the race.


Carney says the mass exodus has "nothing to do" with Rick Perry.
 

UPDATE III - The rumor is that this decision may have played a role in fueling angst in Team Newt's ranks:


Following a bumpy debut as an official candidate which included fumbling an answer about his support for House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan and a report that he carried as much as $500,000 in “revolving charge account” at luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co, the former House speaker has set off for a vacation with his wife Callista


Two weeks on a Greek cruise as the campaign is starting heat up?  Perhaps his staff came to the conclusion that Newt wasn't serious about doing what it takes to win.
 

UPDATE IV - Newt speaks, via Facebook:
 
"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."
 
UPDATE V -  And...there goes Newt's entire paid staff in Iowa, too:
 

“You have to be able to raise money to run a campaign and you have to invest time in fundraising and to campaign here in the state and I did not have the confidence that was going to be happening,” said Craig Schoenfeld, the Iowa executive director of Newt 2012.

Schoenfeld said all six of Gingrich’s remaining paid staff here resigned today: Katie Koberg, deputy director; Page Thorson, coalitions director; Daniel Weiser, field staff; Ryan Keller, field staff; and Joe Heuertz, field staff.


*UPDATE VI* - A source close to the Gingrich campaign emails that Newt's wife, Callista, was a major source of frustration and division within the Gingrich campaign. Examining Callista's (perhaps overbearing) role as a contributing factor to today's huge shake-up is "a good place to start," I'm told.


UPDATE VII - Hi there, more Rick Perry speculation:
 

Adding more fuel to the fire, a source close to Perry's political team told RealClearPolitics on Thursday afternoon that the Texas governor is "leaning toward getting in" to the race.

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Guy Benson

Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Senior Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography