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Gingrich Brushes Off Staff Defection

Less than 24 hours after top aides for Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign jumped ship en masse, the former Speaker of the House told reporters he's still in the race.

"Let me say, first of all, that I am a candidate for the United States because I think that we are in the early stages of the Obama depression. Fourteen million Americans out of work," he told reporters gathered outside his home in McLean, Virginia.

Gingrich also posted a message on Facebook Friday declaring his commitment to run.

"As someone who has been in public life for nearly forty years, I know full well the rigors of campaigning for public office," Gingrich wrote. "I will endure them. I will carry the message of American renewal to every part of this great land, whatever it takes."

Shortly after news broke Thursday afternoon that top Gingrich aides had left, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty's campaign announced they had snatched up a big get: Gingrich's former national campaign co-chair and former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.

"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," Gingrich said in a Facebook posting Thursday amid questions whether his campaign could survive the staff departures.

The defections have sparked criticism that Gingrich, who recently left the country to take a weeklong cruise with his wife, has been running his fledgling presidential campaign on only a part-time basis - perhaps pulled off the trail by his wife, Calista.

Gingrich on Friday tacitly refuted that criticism.

"We live in a time when Americans are genuinely frightened for their country's future, and when the country really wants leadership that talks to them honestly and isn't automatically doing the old politics," he told reporters. "We make decisions as a couple. I think most couples would find that refreshing."

The former House Speaker is expected to make a "major foreign policy" address Sunday evening in Los Angeles.

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