Yesterday, all of Newt Gingrich’s senior campaign aides resigned en masse. Soon after, the disgraced former Speaker’s entire staff in Iowa quit, too. Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), one of Gingrich’s national campaign co-chairman, announced soon after he’s jumped ship and endorsed Tim Pawlenty.

So, what happened, exactly? Did the delusion that Gingrich was a serious presidential contender catch up with the entire campaign operation all of a sudden?

It appears that Gingrich’s two-week vacation pushed his team over the edge.

Mr. Gingrich’s senior strategists confronted him on Thursday after he returned from a two-week vacation with his wife, Callista, which included a cruise through the Greek isles. Mr. Gingrich defended his holiday as a chance to “get away and think,” but aides chastised him, they said, for lacking the discipline to run a focused presidential campaign that could overcome rising doubts about his candidacy. […]

Several advisers pleaded with Mr. Gingrich not to go on the vacation trip, an aide said, but Mrs. Gingrich wanted to go. The aide, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the internal workings of the campaign, said, “We have a spouse who controls the schedule.”

The official line was that the two-week vacation had been long-planned, but yesterday, aides said the Gingriches chose to simply get away for a while after a rough couple of weeks.

The candidate, we also learned yesterday, simply didn’t want to endure the unglamorous aspects of being a presidential candidate — he figures debate performances, media appearances, and social media outreach would be largely sufficient. His aides wanted him to do actual work.

Newt didn’t quite see it that way. On Wednesday, for example, campaign strategists talked to Gingrich on a conference call while the candidate was in New Hampshire. Gingrich was in the first primary state campaigning, right? Wrong. He was in the Granite State to promote a documentary he and his wife made about Pope John Paul II.

There were also financial concerns. Gingrich’s fundraising has suffered, but the candidate nevertheless likes to spend freely, chartering a fancy jet for a three-day swing through Iowa last month, at a cost of $40,000.

Maybe Gingrich can regroup and bounce back? Please. To get back on track, Gingrich would need a top-notch campaign operation, financial resources, a tenacious work ethic, and an ability to actually win people over.

His campaign is over, whether he keeps running or not.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.