Newt Gingrich Cites 'Strategic Differences' With Ex-Aides
To hear Newt Gingrich tell it Friday, the campaign aides who headed for the exits the day before left not because he was doing anything wrong as a presidential candidate.
It was merely a case of having sharply different notions of what a presidential campaign should look like.
Those ex-aides were locked into the old way of doing politics, the former speaker told reporters. He, on the other hand, had a transformational vision of a different kind of presidential campaign. He said:
Let me just say there is a fundamental strategic difference between the traditional consultant community and the kind of campaign I want to run.
Now, we'll find out over the next year who's right. But I believe that we live in a time when Americans are geuinely frightened for the country's future.
And when the country really wants to have leadership that talks with them honestly and doesn't automatically do the old politics.
Gingrich apparently defines the "old politics" as crafting messages and strategies that appeal to enough voters in your party, especially the activists, to gain the presidential nomination. He appears to be rejecting that approach, despite its past effectiveness.
Instead, he wanted to run a campaign that argued to the larger American electorate across party lines that radical change was needed in Washington.
We had a strategic disagreement about how to run a campaign like that because there've been very few campaigns that are solutions oriented and that are oriented to every single American.
This is not aimed at Republicans, or conservatives. It's aimed at every American who is concerned about the country's future. Every American who's worried about unemployment. Every American who stops by the gas station and realizes gas prices are too high. And every American who wants help with their home.
Frankly, that requires an ideal-oriented campaign of substance and it requires a campaign on the Internet that reaches the grassroots of the whole country. And that's what I'm committed to.
A reporter asked Gingrich how he responded to criticisms from some of the former aides who said told journalists that they didn't feel the candidate was working as hard towards his success as they were.
Gingrich apparently pushed the aides past their limit by taking a recent cruise through the Greek islands with his wife Callista as the aides tried to pull together the campaign's ground game as this summer's Ames Straw Poll in Iowa approaches.
The former speaker rejected any suggestion that he wasn't working as hard as he needed to:
We live in a country where you have the ability to reach many people. I did 17 towns in Iowa in one week. At every single town I went to in Iowa we had bigger crowds than they planned for, In Ames at two in the afternoon when they thought there were going to be 40 people there were 178 people. I was just in New Hamphire. The fact is I'll be back in New Hampshire on Monday. I'll be in California on Sunday.
The fact is, I'm prepared to go out and campaign very intensely. But I want a campaign with ideas and solutions. And I want to do it in a way that brings Americans together into a large movement that is determined to change Washington.
Gingrich was asked about disagreements between his wife Callista and some of his former aides who complained that she was playing too great a role in the campaign's strategy. He said:
We make decisions as a couple. I think most couples would find that refreshing, not a problem. And I think that what we've been trying to do is carry messages to the American people and listen to the American people and you'll see us over the next few weeks doing it in new and dynamic and much more open ways than the traditional consultants are comfortable with.