Yesterday, BuzzFeed reported that Newt Gingrich’s donors have pleaded with the candidate to stay in the race. They may end getting more than they bargained for, or at least their inboxes and mailboxes might. Politico reports that Gingrich will sell access to his donor list in an attempt to raise money for the campaign, a move usually reserved for after the campaign ends:
Scrambling to dig himself out of a $4.5 million hole, the former House speaker has resorted to renting his presidential campaign’s most valuable asset – its donor list – for as much as $26,000-a-pop.
It’s a risky move for an active presidential campaign to give outsiders access to his best supporters and possibly donors who could be easily turned off — just as he says he’s trying to mount a comeback. Diminishing his best asset looks more like a sign of surrender, rather than a genuine effort to challenge Mitt Romney for the GOP nomination. …
The scramble to retire debt comes as Newt Gingrich is loaning his campaign thousands of dollars to keep him out on the trail, and he’s eying an uncertain political and financial future, since “Newt, Inc.” – the network of companies and non-profits that made his fortune – has crumbled.
How did they get so far into the hole? Politico quotes unnamed campaign insiders who claim that Gingrich refused to scale down his operations even after the money stopped flowing into the campaign. They describe an “entourage” for Callista Gingrich, although that “entourage” only consisted of two aides, which hardly sounds Elvis-ish. (One of the aides reportedly dressed occasionally in an elephant costume to help Mrs. Gingrich promote her children’s book, though.) The use of private jets ran up the cost, but Politico’s sources also criticize the Gingriches for maintaining their security details, which doesn’t exactly sound like a luxury for a serious presidential candidate.
But does the sale of access to donor lists mean the campaign has come to an effective end? Campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond denies it, arguing that the campaign is just “pursuing new sources of revenue,” but the same donors who were encouraging Gingrich to stay in the race might be less enthusiastic after telemarketers begin flooding them with contacts.
Donors have to know these days that their information will eventually get shared with other campaigns and political organizations, at the very least, if not sold to high bidders at the end of campaigns, so the fact that they have ended up on a marketing list shouldn’t shock anyone — but it will make the campaign look a lot less serious about running for President and a lot more interested in being focused on cash for the sake of cash alone. That’s not a recipe for a comeback in credibility, let alone support.