POLITICS JANUARY 30, 2012
Since the better part of Newt Gingrich’s staff jumped ship back in June, when he jetted off to Greece, the campaign has been a bare-bones operation. Even as the Gingrich campaign was flying highest at the polls, it was still beset with ineptitudes like failing to qualify for the Virginia ballot. So who’s been running the campaign these days? Here’s a quick look at some of the key players:
THE LOYALISTS—VETERANS OF NEWT-WORLD
Michael Krull, Campaign Director
Vince Haley, Policy Director
Both men are veterans of American Solutions, Gingrich’s now-defunct 527, but are otherwise relative unknowns. Krull, who compared the campaign’s failure to get on the ballot in Virginia to the attack at Pearl Harbor, worked for a public relations firm that contracted with the George W. Bush administration before becoming the national director of American Solutions, but does not appear to have worked on a campaign before. Haley seems to have a larger presence in the political landscape, but only slightly. He’s floated through a number of Gingrich projects: he worked as Newt’s research director at the American Enterprise Institute, served as a contributor and co-author on a number of his books (Real Change: Moving from the World that Fails to the World that Works and Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less: A Handbook for Slashing Gas Prices and Solving the Energy Crisis), and as an associate producer on Gingrich’s documentary Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny.
THE BILINGUALS—LATINO-OUTREACH ARM
Jose Mallea, Florida Campaign Director
Lionel Sosa, Media Consultant
In December, the campaign picked up Jose Mallea, who got his start in politics in the 2000 Bush campaign and was a former chief of staff to the mayor of Miami. Mallea, who led Marco Rubio to his 2010 victory over Charlie Crist, appears to offer inroads in Florida, as well as a dose of bombast. “The message that Romney’s been carrying around for months now is ‘electability,’ right?” said Mallea, according to The Daily Beast. “Well that’s what you used to hear about Charlie Crist.”
Lionel Sosa was named one of the “25 Most Influential Hispanics in America” by Time Magazine in 2005 after building a hugely successful advertising firm, which his personal website touts as “the largest Hispanic advertising agency in the U.S.” Sosa broke into politics helping Texas Senator John Towers win reelection in 1978 but made his name working on Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign. (He’s since worked on six more GOP presidential campaigns). According to Time, he “created gauzy, feel-good ads that focused on the candidate rather than the issues, promising Latinos that Republicans shared their values of family, personal responsibility and hard work.” It seems that he’s employing a similar tactic with Gingrich. In an article he wrote in August for The Americano he described Newt’s “keen intellect, effective leadership and bravery in the line of fire.” Gingrich, he wrote, would not “let either political extreme dictate the future of our country.”
STRATEGIC RINGERS—EXPERTS WITH EXPERIENCE
David Winston, Senior Strategist
Kellyanne Conway, Pollster
Mid-December, the campaign acquired David Winston and Kellyanne Conway, both of whom carry considerable clout. Winston has longstanding connections to Gingrich—he worked as director of planning when Newt was Speaker—but Conway seems to be a new professional association. Both run strategic polling firms and frequent the talking-head circuit, acting as pundits on major networks. While Winston’s expertise is decidedly that of a mainstream GOP strategist, Conway, the founder and CEO of The Polling Company, Inc., has focused much of her work on woman-directed branding and marketing.
Thomas Stackpole is a reporter-researcher at The New Republic.