Grace Wyler/Business Insider
LAS VEGAS — Newt Gingrich’s yo-yoing presidential campaign is once again teetering on the verge of collapse, just two weeks after its miraculous South Carolina comeback.It has been a rough three days for Gingrich, who has struggled to regain his footing after Florida’s gruelling, and ultimately, disappointing, primary earlier this week. The former House Speaker has missed out on endorsements, cancelled campaign events, and struggled to find its message as he campaigns (albeit halfheartedly) in the lead-up to Nevada’s caucuses.
The problems here have revolved around scheduling issues. Campaign aides at the state and national level say they have been frustrated by Gingrich’s scheduler ‘s lack of coordination and apparent unwillingness to commit to events, both of which have led to last-minute cancellations and scheduling mishaps.
The handful of public events Gingrich has attended have been planned at the last minute, leaving staff and volunteers scrambling to get the word out to supporters and local media. In fact, Gingrich’s final stop on the campaign yesterday, at a prayer rally with megachurch pastor Jim Garlow in Las Vegas, actually happened almost by accident. The event did not appear on the candidate’s schedule until late Thursday night, and no one on the campaign could figure out who had set it up. (I asked around at the church and found out it was set up by a faith outreach coordinator loosely affiliated with Gingrich’s campaign.)
Gingrich’s only other stop Friday was at Stoney’s Rockin’ Country, a well-known conservative hangout in South Las Vegas. That fact was apparently lost on Gingrich’s handlers, who covered all of the Stoney signs with Newt banners and ushered the candidate in and out the back door. That might not sound like a big deal — but why host a campaign rally in a famous Republican saloon if you’re not going to make sure everyone knows you were there?
Similar missteps have occurred bat every Gingrich event here. A rally that was supposed to focus on jobs and manufacturing was overshadowed by the Trump debacle Thursday. The candidate even missed out on a meeting – and potentially on an endorsement — with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval because of scheduling issues.
In Reno, the campaign bragged that the crowd there had been “too big to handle;” in reality, scheduling problems forced the campaign to book a venue they knew was too small. Moreover, rather than capitalise on support in that region, the campaign went right back to Vegas after just one event.
These scheduling problems echo similar complaints from Gingrich staffers in South Carolina and Florida.
In Nevada, however, they are compounded by a total lack of resources. To say the campaign here is barebones would be an understatement. After four days in the state, I haven’t been able to find one paid Nevada staff member, and nobody on the campaign seems to know if one exists. After getting booted out of their conference room because of a scheduling conflict, the volunteers are now robocalling from a one-bedroom hotel suite.
All of this suggests that Gingrich just doesn’t have his head in the game. If he had wanted to make an impact in Nevada, he could have focused his resources on the state’s rural northern counties, a conservative stronghold that accounts for 60% of Republican caucus-goers (that number shrinks to about 30% in the general election). On the other hand, if Gingrich thought he could not compete on Mitt Romney’s turf, Gingrich could have skipped Nevada all together and moved on to campaign in one of the other seven states that vote this month.
But Gingrich appears ot be making some kind of effort to stop the bleeding. Sources tell Business Insider that the campaign has flown the entire staff into Las Vegas this weekend for emergency meetings on the strategy going forward to Super Tuesday. The question now is whether Newt has it in him to make another comeback.
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