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The ground game

The notion that a candidate must essentially campaign full-time for more than year to become president of the United States is a mixed blessing, at best.

Yes, it’s a test of seriousness and administrative skill. But it’s also become so time-consuming as to rule out anyone with a real job — and so expensive that voters must wonder how much the aspirant owes to whom, starting with the banks.

How many now remember that, last June, Newt Gingrich’s fledging run for the White House was dealt a curious blow when his campaign manager and five other key aides all quit at once? Mr. Gingrich’s spokesman at the time told The Associated Press he was resigning June 9, along with manager Rob Johnson, citing “incompatibility” with the candidate.

While his staff was pushing Mr. Gingrich to run a traditional grass-roots campaign, Mr. Gingrich was content using technology and upcoming debates to sway voters, insiders told the New York Daily News.

Several staffers were reportedly stunned when the former House speaker put his month-old campaign on hold to take a cruise with his wife in the Greek isles.

Ancient history? Last week, Virginia state officials announced Mr. Gingrich was among several Republican hopefuls who failed to submit the required 10,000 signatures required to qualify for that state’s March 6 primary.

Yes, Virginia’s ballot access requirements are onerous. But former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Rep. Ron Paul managed to qualify. Nor does Mr. Gingrich make himself look any better when he vows through his campaign director to “pursue an aggressive write-in campaign.”

Virginia law prohibits write-in votes in primaries. Mr. Gingrich should know that. His home state is … Virginia.

Whether or not Mr. Gingrich might be the best Republican candidate to challenge President Barack Obama next summer and fall, we see here the results of an insufficient “ground game.” Can debate performance and Internet expertise make up the difference? We’ll soon know.

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