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Gingrich limits Nevada appearances as local, national advisers argue

Newt Gingrich Rally

Leila Navidi

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a rally at Xtreme Manufacturing in Las Vegas Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012.

Newt Gingrich in Vegas

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich speaks at a town hall-style meeting with business and community leaders from the Las Vegas Latino community Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Newt Gingrich’s national advisers are feuding with his Nevada team over the candidate’s campaign here, sources said, highlighting the shortcomings of a hastily assembled local operation and toll of a long campaign.

Gingrich canceled a meeting with Gov. Brian Sandoval on Wednesday and has scaled back his schedule here, including nixing a rural tour, leading up to Saturday’s GOP caucuses.

It was the candidate’s national advisers who argued for Gingrich to skip the tour of Nevada’s heavily Republican rural counties, putting them at odds with in-state advisers, who wanted him to make more appearances, particularly outside Las Vegas.

“Their egos are out of control,” said a Nevada campaign adviser, who spoke only on condition of anonymity. “I’m not sure if they’ve ever looked at a map of the Nevada.”

Arriving in the middle of the night following his Florida defeat, Gingrich looked somewhat haggard on the stump Wednesday in Reno.

Asked during a press gaggle after the speech why his Nevada schedule was so thin, Gingrich said he didn’t plan to keep it that way. “We’re adding to it,” he said.

Gingrich made a stop at a manufacturing facility and a Mexican restaurant in downtown Las Vegas this morning.

State advisers were in early stages of scheduling the rural tour until it was nixed by national advisers.

Gingrich is struggling to hold onto relevancy — and momentum from his South Carolina victory — in the race for the Republican nomination. After Romney’s double-digit win in Florida on Tuesday, polls showed the former Massachusetts governor with a commanding lead, 15-20 points, in Nevada.

Gingrich has faced campaign turmoil throughout the race. At one point last year, he endured a mass exodus of advisers and his campaign was left for dead.

He then saw a late resurgence, aided by $10 million in contributions from Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, to a super PAC supporting his bid.

Perhaps because of the turmoil, his campaign gathered some operatives in Nevada but never built an organization like that of Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who have maintained a consistent presence and built on their base of support from 2008.

Gingrich’s national-Nevada feuding is reminiscent of the in-fighting that plagued Sharron Angle’s U.S. Senate campaign to unseat Harry Reid. The local team, who got her through a raucous primary against former state Sen. Sue Lowden, businessman Danny Tarkanian and others, clashed with national operatives brought in chasing a win for Republicans against the Senate majority leader in 2010’s highest-profile Senate race.

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