Disdainful of Strategists, Gingrich Acts as His Own
If Newt Gingrich soars on his strong debate performances this week, overcomes the blowback within his party from attacking Mitt Romney as a corporate buyout king, and goes on to do well when South Carolina voters go to the polls on Saturday, one political strategist will get both blame for the stumbles and credit for successes: Mr. Gingrich himself.
Openly disdainful of professional political operatives, Mr. Gingrich employs almost none of them after a mass exodus of aides in June nearly derailed his candidacy. Asked in a debate here Thursday night to name one thing he might undo about his campaign, he said, “I would skip the opening three months where I hired regular consultants.”
Instead, Mr. Gingrich makes nearly all the key strategic decisions by himself, and in a manner befitting his personality — spontaneously, thinking aloud, often voicing a half-formed idea in full public view before committing to it.
His political instincts are much like everything else about him: brilliant at times, befuddling and exasperating at others.
“In politics, you say something, and it has to be correct the first time and everyone has to be 100 percent behind it or else it’s going to face criticism,” said R. C. Hammond, the spokesman for the Gingrich campaign, describing what he said was the conventional way of running a presidential campaign.
Mr. Gingrich “doesn’t operate that way,” Mr. Hammond said. “It’s O.K. to say an idea and have it be criticized because in this process there’s going to be an improvement.”