Gingrich Cuts Staff, Schedule in Bid to Revive Struggling Campaign

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  March 28, 2012 at 9:09 AM EDT

Newt Gingrich; photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

He may be running a distant third in the delegate race and struggling financially, but Newt Gingrich is not yet ready to throw in the towel.

Instead, the former House speaker will lay off about a third of his staff and cut back his campaign schedule to focus on wooing delegates in the event Mitt Romney fails to reach the 1,144 needed to claim the nomination before the August convention in Tampa.

The news was first reported by Politico Tuesday night.

The changes are the latest setbacks to the Gingrich campaign, which suffered embarrassing losses in the Alabama and Mississippi primaries earlier this month — Southern states critical to the candidate’s strategy. Financial reports released last week also revealed the campaign had more debt than cash on hand.

The developments come as a CNN poll out Tuesday found that 60 percent of Republican voters feel that Gingrich should drop his bid for the Republican nomination. Just 39 percent said he should continue his presidential run.

(The same poll showed similar numbers for Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who has also been keeping a light campaign schedule of late but does have an event planned Wednesday in College Park, Md.)

Gingrich has resurrected his campaign twice before: last summer after most of his senior staff resigned and earlier this year following his defeat in Iowa when he rebounded to win South Carolina, one of his two primary victories.

Given his money woes and growing delegate deficit, a third comeback on Gingrich’s part would appear to be a long shot.

YOUR POLLING ROUNDUP

The protracted GOP fight appears to have taken its toll on Romney, as a new Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 50 percent of Americans have an unfavorable impression of the Republican front-runner. Slightly more than a third — 34 percent — have a favorable impression of the former Massachusetts governor.

By comparison, 53 percent of respondents said they had a favorable impression of President Obama, while 43 percent said they viewed him unfavorably.

Among independents, who will be key in a general election contest, the president received a 50 percent favorable mark and 46 percent unfavorable. For Romney, his rating is upside-down, with 35 percent of independents viewing him favorably and 52 percent unfavorably.

The president also looks strong against both Romney and Rick Santorum in three general election swing states/release-detail?ReleaseID=1727) — Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania — according to a survey released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University.

“President Barack Obama is on a roll in the key swing states,” Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a statement. He cautioned that Romney and Obama had been tied not long ago in Ohio and Florida: “But the election is not today. It is seven months away.”

Here are the details:

Florida: Obama beats Romney, 49 percent to 42 percent; Obama beats Santorum, 50 percent to 37 percent.

Ohio: Obama beats Romney, 47 percent to 41 percent; Obama beats Santorum, 47 percent to 40 percent.

Pennsylvania: Obama beats Romney, 45 percent to 42 percent; Obama beats Santorum, 48 percent to 41 percent.

However, Romney is strengthening his position in upcoming primary states.

Romney leads Santorum 39 percent to 31 percent among Wisconsin Republican voters, according to a poll released Tuesday by Marquette University Law School. Paul runs third with 11 percent, followed by Gingrich at 5 percent.

A new poll of Pennsylvania Republicans ahead of the April 24 primary from Franklin & Marshall College found Santorum leading Romney by just two points, a huge drop from his 15-point lead in the same poll a month ago.

In North Carolina, Santorum and Romney are tied at 30 percent in a new survey from the left-leaning Public Policy Polling. This is a state where Santorum would benefit from Gingrich disappearing, PPP found.

Romney apparently isn’t the only one who wants to end the primary.

Pew Research Center’s weekly News Interest Index survey found that 58 percent of Americans think the campaign has gone on too long, and 52 percent of voters think it is too negative and too dull.

YES, ROMNEY IS STILL RICH

Democrats had a field day Tuesday and dusted off Batman jokes after Politico reported about the proposed expansion of Romney’s home in La Jolla, Calif., complete with its own lobbyist and an elevator for his cars.

Politico’s Reid Epstein, who obtained a 2008 schematic for the renovation from a rival campaign, reports that it’s not all that unusual for people in this oceanfront neighborhood to hire lobbyists for such renovations:

A project this ambitious comes with another feature you don’t always find with the typical fixer-upper: its own lobbyist, hired by Romney to push the plan through the approval process.

Work on the project has not yet begun.

But it may not help Romney — whose wealth has caused him trouble connecting with average folks — to be seen building a split-level, four-vehicle garage that comes with a “car lift” to transport automobiles between floors, according to 2008 schematic plans for the renovation obtained by POLITICO that are on file with the city of San Diego….

The schematic plans are only a precursor to more formal proposals to renovate the 76-year-old, 3,000-square-foot beach house. They include plans for the car elevator and more than 3,600 feet of underground living space. The plans detail that 1,500 cubic yards of earth be removed from the property to facilitate the construction of the large basement.

The plans indicate Romney would retain the home’s existing ocean-facing outdoor lap pool while adding an outdoor shower and a “water feature,” an unclear amenity that drew the attention of San Diego officials because of questions about where the water would drain.

The story provides fodder for Democrats who want to paint a picture of a Republican front-runner who can’t connect with everyday people. But it’s not clear what impact Romney’s wealth will have on voters, especially as he continues to remind them of his successful business record and the fact that he did not inherit his money.

HEALTH CARE BONANZA

The NewsHour is your destination this week for thorough coverage and detailed analysis of the Supreme Court hearings on the health care reform law. Our team is posting audio of the proceedings and courtroom sketches and answered your questions about the election-year battle in a Twitter chat Tuesday.

The day didn’t go all that well for the administration’s Solicitor General Donald Verrilli. He was mocked on the right for stammering and inspired several negative headlines.

National Law Journal’s Marcia Coyle and Health Affairs’ Susan Dentzer, our dynamic duo on air each evening, cautioned Tuesday night that courtroom questioning should not be seen as an indicator of how justices are leaning for the ultimate decision. They also explained the scene and delved into the nitty gritty of the arguments.

Watch that segment here http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/health/jan-june12/scotusday2_03-27.html or below.

Susan explained in this post exactly what the individual mandate is and what it would mean if it is declared unconstitutional.

Jeffrey Brown refereed a debate between former Solicitor General Walter Dellinger and Georgetown Law’s Randy Barnett, who each were in the court Tuesday, about the constitutionality of the mandate.

Watch that conversation here or below.

Jason Kane and Victoria Fleischer brought you the images of health care opponents on Monday. Tuesday, they delivered a piece with voices and images of health care supporters.

You can read Marcia’s primer on Day 3 here.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • In Iowa on Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden will go after Romney as “remarkably consistent.” “Consistently wrong,” that is, according to early excerpts of his speech provided by the Obama campaign. Biden will go after Romney’s record as governor on jobs and manufacturing. “[H]e vetoed a bill passed by the Massachusetts legislature that would have stopped the state from outsourcing contracts overseas. That resulted in millions of dollars flowing to companies running call centers in India,” Biden will say, according to the excerpts. “It’s no surprise that Massachusetts was losing manufacturing jobs twice as fast as the rest of the country while Governor Romney was in charge. The third worst rate in the country.”

  • Paul is the focus of a New York Times story exploring why his passionate supporters haven’t translated to wins in any states. The congressman told the newspaper he is “real satisfied” with the campaign he’s run.

  • Romney appeared on Tuesday’s “Tonight Show With Jay Leno.” Watch.

  • The pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future is up with a new television ad in Wisconsin attacking Santorum’s economic credentials.

  • The Democratic National Committee posted a web video attacking Romney’s foreign policy credentials.

  • Sunlight Foundation examines outside spending.

  • Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., complained again about the Citizens United decision, saying, “What the Supreme Court did was a combination of arrogance, naivete and stupidity, the likes of which I’ve never seen.” Both McCain and former Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., sounded a similar note in a conversation with Roll Call.

  • National Journal looks at the Republican National Committee members who could boost Romney heading into the convention.

  • Team Obama spent $3 million on digital ads and text messages in February alone. Over the course of the re-election campaign, the president’s team has spent $11 million on web ads, Kate Kaye of ClickZ News reports.

  • The Obama campaign is selling “I bark for Barack” window decals starring first dog Bo.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

NewsHour politics desk assistant Ryan C. Brooks contributed to this report.

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama attends meetings at the White House.

  • Vice President Biden delivers remarks on manufacturing in Davenport, Iowa, at 12:15 p.m.

  • Rick Santorum campaigns in Wisconsin, discussing health care in Sparta at 10:30 a.m., bowling with the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse College Republicans at 12:45 p.m. and holding a rally in Onalaska at 2 p.m.

  • Newt Gingrich speaks at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., at 5 p.m.

  • Ron Paul holds a town hall in College Park, Md., at 7 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney has no public campaign events scheduled.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers and @suddinengel.