The ex-staffers who fueled rumors of defeat when they quit GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s campaign have come back now that the former House Speaker is experiencing an upswing in the polls.
Two of the eight advisers who walked away for Gingrich’s campaign in June are back. The Des Moines Register reported that Craig Schoenfeld and Katie Koberg have returned to Gingrich’s Iowa campaign as Gingrich’s senior advisers.
The two departed during the June 9 en masse resignations. Senior aides in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina blamed disagreements with the early direction of the campaign for their departure. The aides reportedly wanted Gingrich to run a conventional campaign, stumping in key states and attending speaking functions. Gingrich, who felt it was still early in the race, wanted to run a high-tech campaign that relied on social networking mediums.
"The campaign manager met with the senior advisers and Newt, and they couldn't find a mutually agreeable path forward," then- campaign spokesman Rick Tyler told USA Today.
Gingrich’s campaign manager and strategist also left in the June 9 resignation. Weeks later, two more aides –fundraising director Jody Thomas and fundraising consultant Mary Heitman – quit the campaign as news broke that the campaign was $1 million in debt.
The staff members’ exodus ignited rumors that Gingrich’s campaign was over. Now Schoenfeld and Koberg’s return is sign of the campaign’s growing popularity.
Days earlier a Fox News poll showed Gingrich was leading his GOP rivals with 23 percent of Republican support. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was a close second with 22 percent, while businessman Herman Cain is a distant third with 15 percent GOP support.
His ascent began with an early October CBS News poll that put Gingrich in third place. The poll was a reflection of his steady performances in debates where he evaded personal questions and lobbied attacks at President Barack Obama’s policies.
Now he has gained the support of tea party members who, according to the FOX News poll, seem to trust Gingrich’s judgment more than the other candidates.
When asked, “Which Republican presidential candidate would you trust most with nuclear weapons?” Tea Party members overwhelmingly chose Gingrich (by 54 percent) compared to most Republicans (32 percent).
Despite his climb in the polls, Gingrich has yet to prove to his party and the country that he can beat Obama.
The majority of conservatives (tea party members included) still believe that Mitt Romney has the best chance of beating President Obama in the 2012 race, Fox News reported. Additionally, Democratic and Republican voters said they would vote for Obama over Gingrich, 46 percent to 41 percent.
Gingrich is currently being hampered by reports that he received $1.6 million from mortgage giant and Republican target Freddie Mac for lobbying services. Gingrich, who has formed several foundations for charitable and historical projects, defended his actions saying he gave the agency “strategic advice,” according to The Des Moines Register.