Top Gingrich staffers resign, including key Perry personnel

The top aides to Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign have resigned en masse, the Associated Press is reporting. The departed include two former key personnel for Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Dave Carney and Rob Johnson are among the newly former Gingrich staffers, according to the Washington Post, which reported, “The Carney and Johnson resignations will fuel speculation that Perry is moving toward the race.”

While Gingrich fumbled his entrance into the White House foray with comments critical of the health care plans of the conservative wing of the GOP, Perry — who’s officially been thinking about a 2012 run — has drawn headlines and flack for embracing uber-religious right group American Family Association. Perry’s public call for a day of prayer and fasting in August, with the main event in Houston sponsored by AFA, however, is unlikely to affect his standing with hardcore GOP voters, other than to perhaps bolster his socially conservative reputation.

Gingrich’s campaign has struggled in recent weeks as well, so while the departures could make a Perry campaign easier, the staffers may have left even if Perry had no intention of running, according to the Austin American Statesman.

Texas Tribune pollster Jim Henson, who is a University of Texas professor, told the Tribune, “In my mind, there has never been any question that, if the idea of a Perry candidacy became serious, Carney would return. But the fact that both he and Rob Johnson are leaving makes it hard to interpret this any other way.”

A Perry spokesman, however, told the Tribune that the Gingrich news doesn’t change anything about Perry’s plans (whatever they may be).

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