By NBC’s Alex Moe and Andrew Rafferty
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Two staffers that left Newt Gingrich’s Iowa campaign during a staff exodus this summer are back with the campaign and become its first two paid staffers in the Hawkeye State.
Craig Schoenfeld and Katie Koberg have rejoined the former House speaker’s campaign as senior advisers in charge of running caucus operations, spokesman R.C. Hammond told NBC News Thursday.
“Usually we take small steps ahead but this is a pretty big one,” Hammond said.
Schoenfeld, who was the Iowa executive director, now becomes senior advisor and Koberg his deputy.
After 18 people left the Gingrich campaign in June -- including six Iowa staffers -- many wrote the former speaker off as having any chance to win the first-in-the-nation caucus state. Now, five months later, with no clear frontrunner in Iowa, the campaign has new life, increased fundraising, and is rising in the polls.
During Schoenfeld’s absence from the Gingrich campaign, he led efforts in Iowa for Americans for Rick Perry -- the independent expenditure committee that helped spread interest in a Perry presidential run just before the Ames Straw Poll.
But when Perry did enter the race, members of the group were forced to wait 120 days before they could have any contact with the Texas governor's campaign -- a period which has still not come to a close. Schoenfeld, a lawyer based in West Des Moines, joined Strong America Now, a nonprofit organization which urges presidential candidates to support policies that eliminate government deficits while not raising taxes.
More paid staff announcements are pending as well as the opening of seven campaign offices statewide.