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Staff quit because "I'm different," Gingrich says

Jun 22, 2011, 8:04 a.m.

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Wednesday attributed the mass resignations among his campaign staff to the fact that he is "very different" from mainstream politicians.

"Philosophically, I am very different from normal politicians, and normal consultants found that very hard to deal with," Gingrich said in a speech to the Atlanta Press Club.

"We have big ideas. I just think that's part of how you campaign. You talk to the American people about big things."

Gingrich, a former history professor in Georgia, said 13 of Ronald Reagan's aides quit during his 1980 presidential primary campaign. Reagan went on to win the nomination and the presidency.

"If I had to choose Reaganomics or 13 staffers quitting, I think for the average working American, Reaganomics was a much better deal," Gingrich said, referring to Reagan's policy of cutting taxes and reducing government regulations.

Two of Gingrich's top fund-raising aides resigned on Tuesday. Other key members of Gingrich's team, including his campaign manager, resigned on June 9, questioning his commitment to the 2012 presidential race after the candidate went on a Greek cruise with his wife.

Since launching his presidential campaign in May, Gingrich has also angered his party by criticizing a congressional Republican plan to scale back the Medicare health insurance program for the elderly and disabled.

Fleeing staff members have questioned whether he is serious about fundraising, and media reports have said his campaign is more than $1 million in debt.

Gingrich, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, said on Wednesday his campaign will be a "very grass roots oriented campaign based on the Internet. The biggest challenge, candidly, will be raising money."

Again, he mentioned the Reagan campaign of 1980 when a campaign bus broke down and staffers scrambled to raise $500 to fix it.

"I think we will have so many substantive ideas and such a fundamentally different approach to being positive and doing things the positive way that we will convince the American people that if you really want dramatic change in Washington, you had better have a candidate who knows how to change the city, which I think my record as speaker is pretty good on," Gingrich said.

Gingrich, 68, was the main architect of the 1994 election victory that gave Republicans control of both houses of Congress for the first time in decades. He also wrote the party's "Contract with America" political manifesto.

Among the ideas he proposed on Wednesday was auditing the Federal Reserve and cutting its power.

(Editing by Jane Sutton; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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