Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich credits his wife Callista for helping to revive his once sagging campaign, according to a new Politico eBook, “Playbook 2012: The Right Fights Back.”
After the campaign struggled in its early weeks, Gingrich put Callista and her college friend Michael Krull, now campaign director, in charge of the operation. And Callista has shined, Gingrich says.
“We privately discuss everything,” he told Politico
. Callista is privy to all of the campaign’s major email traffic and excels at editing, Gingrich says.
“She is a very good surrogate,” he said. “She is increasingly comfortable going out and talking and giving speeches and visiting with people.”
Gingrich says Callista’s role is similar to that of Nancy Reagan. “Nancy was extraordinarily close to Ronnie, and they discussed virtually everything,” he said.
He dismisses the criticism of former staff members directed toward his wife.
“They were worried about Callista‘s impact in South Carolina,” the former House speaker said. “I mean, to a degree that was absurd.”
The concern was that after two divorces, a younger wife would turn off voters and invite dirty tricks against the candidate, Gingrich says.
“And every time she goes out she is wildly received,” he said. “Our volunteers are begging her to go out and do more meetings, and have more coffees, and see more people.”
It turns out that it was the ex-staffers who were the problem, Gingrich says.
“What I concluded was that we were surrounded by a bunch of guys who had learned politics 25 years ago, and they had no idea how much the world had changed. . . . By the way, all of them except [Rick] Tyler went to [Texas Gov. Rick] Perry, and I‘ll let you decide how successful they‘ve been.’”
Gingrich admits his campaign almost collapsed during the summer.
“I was the only guy in the room who didn’t know I was dead,” he said. June and July amounted to “the two hardest months in my life. It was just excruciating.”
Donations dwindled after much of his staff resigned and after scathing reports of a trip he took to the Greek islands and his Tiffany’s expense account.
“We went through two sets of finance people who just burned out because they couldn’t take the negatives,” Gingrich said.
As Gingrich sees it, he’s setting down a new template for how to run a presidential campaign. “I told somebody at one point, ‘This is like watching Walton or Kroc develop Wal-Mart and McDonald’s.”’
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