I have said many times that I don’t think Newt Gingrich ever really thought he had a chance of winning the Republican nomination, nor do I think Herman Cain did. I think they both started their campaigns with a primarily financial goal in mind, and I think they both achieved those goals. The Washington Examiner spells out the many ways Newt has turned his campaign into financial opportunity.
To judge the success of Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign, don’t look at the number of county delegates he wins in next Tuesday’s Iowa’s caucuses, or even where he places in New Hampshire’s primary the following week. Gingrich delegates to the Republican National Convention will not be the proper measure of the former speaker’s bid. The increase in Newt’s net worth will be the true gauge…
Newt Inc. is the unofficial name of a small network of enterprises making money for Gingrich on the strength of his name and reputation. “American Solutions for Winning the Future” was one such enterprise, anchored by two books (“Winning the Future,” 2005 and “Real Change,” 2008), and aimed at building an active network of Gingrich followers debating various “solutions” in web forums — “The American Solutions Community,” as Gingrich & Co. called it.
Anyone who has worked in marketing understands what was going on here. Gingrich lured in motivated private citizens to his “Solutions Lab,” promising them they could “collaborate on developing policy solutions to the many challenges facing America,” as one book put it. These right-leaning idealists’ email addresses and personal information was then compiled into valuable lists.
Newt Inc. also used blunter tools to harvest valuable conservative email addresses. In 2008, for instance, Republicans were reeling from a teetering economy and the dismal poll ratings of George W. Bush, and so they focused on expanding offshore drilling. “It’s our only winning issue,” one top GOP aide told me. American Solutions began a petition campaign called “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less,” and raked in 100,000 online “signatures.” These sort of online petitions are ubiquitous in today’s politics. The organizers typically deliver the signatures to Capitol Hill or the White House, to little or no effect. The real purpose is building a mailing list that can then be sold to anyone looking for thousands of politically interested conservatives, or folks worried about gas prices.In the case of Newt Inc., you can always sell your mailing lists to your own presidential campaign. In a July campaign filing, Newt 2012 (Gingrich’s presidential campaign) listed a $47,005 debt to Newt Gingrich with the line item reading “Direct Mail List/Travel.” The Washington Post reports that $42,000 of that was for the mailing list.
He’s also had his campaign pay money to his other business ventures for web development and used campaign stops more for selling books than policy proposals. And then there’s this:
Even when Newt Inc. wasn’t profiting from Newt 2012, Newt himself was benefiting. Consider his campaign-funded trip with his wife to Hawaii in August, coinciding with their wedding anniversary. A Gingrich spokesman told Politico the trip was for fundraising, but his schedule listed no fundraisers in the state and FEC data shows no August contributions to Gingrich from any donors in Hawaii — and only one since August, for $900, surely less than his plane fare.
And there was, of course, his vacation to Greece, which he later claimed was to do research on the European debt crisis. None of this is particularly unusual, of course, politicians of all parties sell their own books at campaign stops for instance. But I think that was the entire goal of his campaign, along with resurrecting his reputation as someone to take seriously, which will then boost his appearance fees and bring more clients to his various moneymaking schemes.
We saw what Newt was all about with his various award-giving scams, where his organizations would send letters to doctors and business owners telling them that they were getting an award that Gingrich would personally give to them at a ceremony in Washington, DC — all they had to do was spend a few thousands dollars on tickets to the dinner.