Gingrich campaign fundraisers quit
by Shannon McCaffrey and Philip Elliott
Associated Press
June 21, 2011 02:15 PM | 689 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Newt Gingrich speaks at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans on Thursday. Gingrich’s top two fundraising advisers resigned on Tuesday and officials said the Republican candidate’s hobbling presidential campaign carried more than $1 million in debt.<br>The Associated Press
Newt Gingrich speaks at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans on Thursday. Gingrich’s top two fundraising advisers resigned on Tuesday and officials said the Republican candidate’s hobbling presidential campaign carried more than $1 million in debt.
The Associated Press
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ATLANTA — Newt Gingrich’s top two fundraising advisers resigned on Tuesday, and officials said the Republican candidate’s hobbling presidential campaign carried more than $1 million in debt.

The departures of fundraising director Jody Thomas and fundraising consultant Mary Heitman were the latest blow for the former House speaker who watched 16 top advisers abandon his campaign en masse earlier this month, partly because of what people familiar with the campaign spending described as a dire financial situation.

These people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the campaign inner workings, said the former Georgia lawmaker racked up massive travel bills but money had only trickled in since he got into the race earlier this spring.

These officials said that he is at least $1 million in debt. The current fundraising quarter ends June 30, and Gingrich will have to disclose his campaign finances by July 15. He is personally wealthy and could fund his campaign out of his own pocket, at least in the short term, to keep it afloat.

Gingrich has insisted that he will not abandon his troubled bid and will continue fighting for the Republican nomination for president “no matter what it takes.” He’s revamping his campaign, given the series of departures.

“Newt 2012 continues its reorganization and alignment as a grassroots driven, substantive, solutions-oriented campaign,” a spokesman, R.C. Hammond, told The Associated Press, adding that the campaign is “as committed as ever.”

He said aides and volunteers continue to raise money, despite the absences of Thomas and Heitman. Hammond declined to discuss details of the financial situation.

Heitman, a former fundraiser with the Republican National Committee, declined to comment. Thomas did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Underscoring the financial difficulties he faces, Gingrich has traded in private jets for commercial flights; on Tuesday, he was traveling commercially from Washington for an appearance in Georgia.

Troubles have plagued the Gingrich campaign since its formal launch just five weeks ago.

He drew fire from conservatives after an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” in which he likened a Republican budget plan that passed the House to “right-wing social engineering.”

Days of bad publicity followed revelations that he had a no-interest loan account at luxury jeweler Tiffany’s worth up to $500,000. And just as the GOP presidential race began to heat up, Gingrich disappeared on a luxury cruise in the Greek Isles with his wife, Callista.

Then, his top advisers walked on him.

He has refused to answer questions about his rocky rollout, his vacation to the Mediterranean or the exodus of his top staff from his headquarters near Atlanta and from the early nominating states.

“I will endure the challenges. I will carry the message of American renewal to every part of this great land,” Gingrich told a crowded ballroom at a Beverly Hills hotel recently. “And with the help of every American who wants to change Washington, we will prevail.”

Since his campaign meltdown, he has largely kept a low profile, favoring messages on Twitter and television interviews to interacting with voters.

Gingrich was scheduled to meet with tea party activists in Savannah later Tuesday. He planned to speak to the Atlanta Press Club for a speech on Wednesday. In a sign that others may be questioning the Gingrich campaign’s viability, Atlanta Press Club Executive Director Lauri Strauss said that a corporate sponsor had not stepped up to sponsor Gingrich’s speech, as is customary with most addresses before the group.

Gingrich is scheduled to headline a birthday celebration at his Atlanta campaign headquarters on Wednesday and then to appear at a hotel near the Baltimore-Washington International Airport on Thursday. Both are far from states that hold the first contests of the GOP nomination fight, Iowa and New Hampshire.

He is slated to return to Iowa this weekend.
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