This time, the staff fired the candidate.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination imploded Thursday when his senior advisers resigned en masse, in part over their concerns that Gingrich was not willing to work hard enough to win.

Spokesman Rick Tyler, the guardian of Gingrich's image for 12 years, quit, as did senior strategist Dave Carney and campaign manager Rob Johnson, and aides in charge of organizing efforts for the early nomination contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

"The professional team came to the realization that the direction of the campaign they sought and Newt's vision for [the] campaign were incompatible," Carney said in an e-mail to The Inquirer.

On Facebook, Gingrich said he would remain a candidate. "I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring," he said. "The campaign begins anew Sunday in Los Angeles."

Perhaps, but it's nearly impossible to run an operation as complex as a presidential campaign without a staff.

Morale had been low on the Gingrich team, and many staffers believed that the candidate lacked direction, according to Republican sources familiar with the campaign. Gingrich wanted to rely on technology and social media to build his campaign, along with provocative performances in televised debates.

Aides pressed Gingrich to pay more attention to old-fashioned grassroots organizing and retail campaigning in the early states, along with the other approaches. But his travel schedule was thin.

The last straw, former staffers said, was Gingrich's decision to take a long-planned Mediterranean cruise last week with his wife, Callista, even with the campaign already off to a shaky start.

Aides' links to Perry

Thursday's exodus increased speculation that Texas Gov. Rick Perry might enter the race, despite earlier disavowals; Carney and Johnson have been longtime advisers to Perry. Carney said his decision was not related to Perry, and the governor's spokesman in Austin said he had not changed his plans.

Craig Schoenfeld, who was running Gingrich's Iowa operation and resigned Thursday, told the Des Moines Register that he was concerned Gingrich lacked a "path to success" in the state because he did not seem serious about making an effort to woo donors and supporters.

"You have to be able to raise money to run a campaign, and you have to invest time in fund-raising and to campaign here in the state, and I did not have the confidence that was going to be happening," Schoenfeld told the newspaper.

Gingrich is scheduled to appear at a Republican Jewish Coalition event in Los Angeles on Sunday night and to participate in Monday night's CNN debate among the Republican candidates in Manchester, N.H.

"There was a question of commitment," Scott Rials, a consultant to Gingrich who resigned Thursday, told the Associated Press.

Baggage and ideas

Most political analysts had considered Gingrich a long shot from the start, given his history of straying off message into controversy. Gingrich, who was speaker in the 1990s, had been out of elective politics for a long time, and his style can be abrasive. He also carries personal baggage: He's on his third marriage, with well-publicized incidents of adultery in the past.

But Gingrich, a former history professor, has also been a productive source of ideas in the GOP as a lecturer, writer, and television pundit, and he cast himself as an intellectual counterweight to President Obama.

His campaign's first two weeks were disastrous. Just days after announcing, Gingrich went on NBC's Meet the Press and denounced the House Republican budget plan to privatize Medicare as "right-wing social engineering" that was too radical to pass. On the same show, he endorsed an individual mandate to buy health insurance, a central feature of Obama's national overhaul - and a nonstarter for the GOP's conservative base.

He apologized to Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the author of the budget plan, and branded the individual mandate as unconstitutional after an outcry from Republicans.

Then came the revelation that Gingrich and his wife had a revolving credit account of up to $500,000 with the luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co.

Contact politics writer Thomas Fitzgerald at 215-854-2718 or tfitzgerald@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "The Big Tent," at www.philly.com/bigtent.