RENO, Nev. — Things haven't gotten much better for Newt Gingrich since he alighted here early Wednesday from a stinging defeat in Florida's primary.
The former House speaker abruptly canceled a meeting with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval after his campaign had arranged the photo opportunity at Sandoval's office in Carson City. Not even Gingrich's campaign advisers know why the campaign scheduler called it off, irking them and those in Sandoval's office who had helped set up the event.
Sandoval, who had endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry but is expected to sit out the endorsement game between now and Saturday's caucuses here, is popular in Nevada.
“You're a Republican presidential candidate coming into a state with a Republican governor,” said one irritated Gingrich adviser who requested anonymity to speak freely. “It's common courtesy to meet him.”
Calls to Sandoval’s office were not immediately returned.
Other signs of disarray appeared Wednesday. Gingrich's schedule called for a 1 p.m. rally in Reno, but volunteers put out word that the event would be at noon — and that supporters should show up at 11:30. Gingrich is regularly late to his campaign events — he showed up nearly two hours behind schedule to one rally in Tampa on Monday, prompting some supporters to leave before the candidate spoke.
Gingrich's advisers say they are optimistic that he can garner significant support within the state's tea party movement. But others say the tea party is especially fractured here — a fact documented amply in 2010, when tea party loyalists split their affections among three Republicans seeking the nomination to run against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“The tea party in Nevada doesn’t coordinate or communicate at all,” said Chuck Muth, a longtime conservative operative in Nevada who is working for a pro-Gingrich super PAC. “They are completely divided. It’s the same problem they had in 2010. There’s just no unified agreement in Nevada that this is the candidate we’re getting behind.”Gingrich’s advisers also say the campaign boasts the most comprehensive list of Republican voters — and where they caucus — of any operation in Nevada. Others, however, say little has been done to put the list to use. Gingrich has been so strapped for money over the first four nominating contests that his campaign has been unable to do more than build field operations on the fly. Several advisers said that will change after Nevada — that the campaign finally has the resources to look ahead to upcoming states such as Arizona and Colorado.