Posted on | April 8, 2012 | 22 Comments
“In January, Gingrich spent everything he raised, and more, and finished the month with debts nearly equal to his cash-on-hand figure. Newt’s campaign was essentially broke after the Florida primary Jan. 31.”
— Robert Stacy McCain, Feb. 21
“Question 1: How much did Newt raise in February? Question 2: What was his campaign’s cash-on-hand and total debt as of March 1?”
— Robert Stacy McCain, March 13
If you haven’t been reading this blog regularly, you may have been shocked by Newt’s confession today on Fox News Sunday:
“Unfortunately, our guys tried to match Romney,” Gingrich said of the Florida match-up. “It turned out, we didn’t have anything like his capacity to raise money.”
Gingrich said he has a little less than $4.5 million in campaign debt, and he’s operating on a shoestring budget.
I was there when it happened, although nobody realized it at the time, and it took another seven weeks to learn the truth.
There are ways of billing expenses so that a campaign can push forward its obligation. The invoices delivered on March 1 won’t be made public until the March FEC report goes online April 20. Yet was obvious from the February report that Newt’s campaign had spent the entire month trying to maintain an expensive illusion of financial viability, an illusion that did not dissolve until three weeks into March. Apparently, many people still don’t comprehend what a rotten scam it was.
A veteran political observer to whom I spoke by today said, of course, it has become “standard operating procedure” for campaigns to conceal the reality of their finances by agreeing with consultants and vendors to delay invoicing. “Hell, that’s what the RNC was doing under Michael Steele,” said the veteran political observer.
On Feb. 29, Santorum’s campaign announced it had raised $9 million in February. A week later, Romney’s campaign said it had raised $11.5 in February. Newt’s campaign kept silent about its February fundraising, and I knew they were hiding bad news. After I saw the March 20 FEC report, I paid attention to three little items:
- Days before the March 24 Louisiana primary, Gingrich’s campaign entourage was rolling across the state in a 10-car motorcade;
- Newt didn’t announce staff layoffs until March 27; and
- The day after the layoffs, we learned Gingrich had met secretly with Romney in New Orleans before the polls opened in Louisiana.
For most of March — from the week before “Super Tuesday” all the way to his closed-door meeting with Mitt in New Orleans and beyond — Gingrich’s campaign was a money-gobbling mirage, already “under water” on its debts, like a homeowner living large on money obtained through a re-finance deal on a house appraised in excess of its actual value.
“It never occurred to me — and this is one of the lessons I’m contemplating for some future memoir — it never occurred to me the scale of the Romney fundraising capability,” Gingrich said. “I was fully prepared to be outspent 2-to-1, even 3-to-1. But when you’re up to 5- or 6-to-1, you’re being drowned. You’re not going to be able to match it.” . . .
(Whoa. The “scale of the Romney fundraising capability” “never occurred” to Newt until his own campaign was blowing through $980,000 a day in late January in an ill-advised effort to win Florida, despite all the evidence that the effort was already doomed?)
He will find money to pay off the seven-figure debt “the same way I did in 1978 [when he was first elected to Congress after two losing campaigns], the same way I did in 1999 [after resigning the speakership]. You work and pay it off,” Gingrich said. “Whatever shape we’re in when this is over, you look at it, you take a big swallow and go to work.”
Yeah, he’ll “go to work,” all right: As Mitt’s rent-boy.