WASHINGTON (AP) — The presidential campaign of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has suffered a blow with the resignation of his campaign manager and other key aides.
Gingrich had already been struggling in what is seen as a wide-open Republican race for a nominee to challenge President Barack Obama next year.
Rick Tyler, Gingrich’s spokesman, said he, campaign manager Rob Johnson and senior strategists had resigned, along with other aides.
Gingrich is one of the better known Republican candidates, but his campaign has been hurt by some of his off-the-cuff comments. His extramarital affairs and three marriages also do not sit well with social conservatives, the party’s core voters.
WATCH ‘MORNING JOE’ COVERAGE OF NEWT’S CAMPAIGN IMPLOSION:
Gingrich intends to stay in the race, according to campaign officials who declined to be identified by name, saying they were not authorized to discuss private conversations.
Even before the sudden departures, Gingrich’s campaign was off to a notably rocky start. Within days of formally announcing he would run, he was assailed by conservatives for criticizing a plan to remake the government health plan for the elderly that Republicans pushed through the House.
He called the author of the plan, Rep. Paul Ryan, to apologize but did not back off his objections.
Within days, he had dropped from sight, embarking on a cruise to the Greek Isles with his wife, Callista, while rivals for the Republican nomination kept up their campaign appearances.
He returned to the United States earlier in the week to confront a rebellion that had been brewing for some time among the senior echelon of his campaign.
While Gingrich told his now-departed aides he would remain in the race, he faces formidable obstacles in assembling a new team in time to compete.
Most immediately, he is scheduled to participate in a debate next Monday in early primary state of New Hampshire.
Gingrich, 67, last served in public office more than a decade ago. He resigned as House speaker after two terms in the wake of an unexpectedly close election in 1998 in which Republicans gained far fewer seats than he had predicted.
In the years since, he has established a virtual one-man think tank, publishing books and speaking publicly.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.