The Newt Gingrich presidential campaign was rocked by some astonishing news this afternoon.  Well, it would have been, if anyone was left to be rocked.

Virtually the entire senior staff of the Gingrich campaign, including spokesman Rick Tyler, campaign manager Rob Johnson, strategist Dave Carney, and national consultant Sam Dawson, along with senior aides from key primary states New Hampshire and South Carolina – plus the entirety of his professional campaign staff in Iowa – resigned together. 

Writing for the Des Moines Register, Jennifer Jacobs reports some unhappiness in the Gingrich ranks over the past few weeks, including a sense that he wasn’t putting in the appearances required to build his campaign, or raising the kind of funds he needed.  A report in the Politico cites unhappiness with a long-planned vacation cruise Gingrich took after a rough campaign kickoff, and disagreement with the candidate’s strategy of prevailing through debate performances, instead of concentrating on nuts-and-bolts campaign activities.

There is some speculation that this might be the beginning of a defection to Texas governor Rick Perry, who is thought to be considering a presidential run.  Some of the aides who deserted Gingrich today have long-standing ties to Perry.

Gingrich is taking all this in stride, saying in a Facebook post: “I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring.  The campaign begins anew Sunday in Los Angeles.”  He’s scheduled to appear at an event sponsored by the Republican Jewish Coalition. 

Several of the aides resigning today spoke highly of Gingrich.  Iowa executive director Craig Schoenfeld said, “I have the upmost respect for him.  I think he would be an incredible president. He’s got a knack for leadership and for understanding what troubles America.”  Outgoing Atlanta aide Scott Rials wished him well, and confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he understands Gingrich will remain in the race.