Gingrich super PAC navigates the wilderness
April 25th, 2012
09:55 AM ET
10 years ago

Gingrich super PAC navigates the wilderness

Washington (CNN) - Winning Our Future, the super PAC backing Newt Gingrich, isn't quite sure what to do with itself these days.

Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson hasn't donated since February.

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His wife Miriam is keeping the flame alive, but she hasn't cut a check in over a month.

Aside from the Adelsons, who have steered more $20 million to Winning Our Future, just 25 people around the country gave money to the group in March, according to the PAC's most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission.

By contrast, 136 donors wrote checks last month to Restore Our Future, the super PAC backing Mitt Romney.

The group's staff has dwindled. They have not run a television ad since early March.

And one recently departed adviser to the group is now conceding defeat.

Katon Dawson, a former South Carolina Republican Party chairman who was providing political advice to the group but left in March, said Gingrich lacked the organizational muscle and fundraising discipline that could have overcome Romney.

"At the end of the day organization matters," Dawson told CNN. "Money matters. Having a spin machine matters. Getting on the ballots mattered. All the institutional stuff that everyone in the race wanted to blow off mattered. And Romney set it up. To the victor goes the spoils. Money and organization is Newt's weakness."

The group is running some voter contact efforts in North Carolina ahead of the May 8 primary, a spokesman for the PAC said.

But advisers to the group and a handful of Republicans familiar with its inner-workings said they are in limbo until Gingrich signals what his next steps are.

"Business is slower than usual," said one operative who worked closely with the PAC at the height of the Republican primary season. "People are looking at where the dust is settling and figuring out what's happening moving forward."

The PAC's strategists are evaluating whether there is enough appetite for a Romney alternative in the Republican race.

There does not seem to be much: recent polls have shown that almost 90% of Republicans are behind Romney in a match-up against President Barack Obama.

"There is one outstanding question and that is, is there still a significant anti-Romney vote," said Rick Tyler, a spokesman for Winning Our Future.

Gingrich apparently has the same question.

In the wake of five more losses in Tuesday night's northeastern primaries, the former House speaker is in the process of reassessing his campaign.

Tyler would not say if the group plans to buy TV airtime in any upcoming primary states but said that while the group is "decidedly downsized," they are "clearly active."

"We will go as long as Newt's in the race," Tyler said.

According to the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political advertising, Winning Our Future has not run a television ad since March 13, when Alabama and Mississippi failed to deliver Gingrich the strong showings he had been hoping for in the two southern primaries.

The lull in activity is not for lack of cash flow.

Unlike the Gingrich campaign, which has more than $4.3 million in debts, Winning Our Future reported nearly $6 million in the bank at the end of March.

Those funds cannot be transferred to Gingrich's campaign account, but beyond that the rules are murky on what can be done with the money if Gingrich ends his presidential bid.

Meanwhile, the business of backing Newt has proven lucrative for those involved.

The president of Winning Our Future, longtime Gingrich aide Becky Burkett, has collected nearly $250,000 in payments for fundraising and consulting work since the group was formed in December.

The group's managing director, a Texas-based GOP operative named Gregg Phillips, received nearly $300,000 for strategy work over the same period.

In February, longtime Republican operative Norman Cummings earned a one-time payment of $135,000 for consulting work listed as "research."

Unless Gingrich pulls off a miracle upset at the August convention, Winning Our Future will perhaps best be remembered for the barrage of ads they ran against Romney in January, hammering the former Bain Capital head as a predatory capitalist who coldly shut down factories and laid off workers for the sake of a profit.

While the group's promise to run $3.4 million worth of anti-Romney ads in South Carolina never materialized – they only ran $1.7 million in the state, still a hefty sum – they brought the topic of Romney's venture capital experience to the fore by purchasing and promoting a sinister documentary about his record at Bain.

Despite the film's sharply negative tone, one of its producers told CNN that injecting Bain into the Republican discourse was important because Romney's private sector resume will surely be revisited in the general election by the Obama campaign.

"I don't have any regrets on that," said the producer, who did not want to be identified admitting defeat to Romney. "It was better to call attention to the Bain Capital issue in January than it will be in September. He still hasn't resolved how to answer it. So hopefully by the time Obama does it, maybe people will take the attitude of 'Well, maybe I've heard that already.'"

Filed under: 2012 • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    "The PAC's strategists are evaluating whether there is enough appetite for a Romney alternative in the Republican race.

    There does not seem to be much: recent polls have shown that almost 90% of Republicans are behind Romney in a match-up against President Barack Obama."
    By an almost 2:1 margin, those Republicans are not supporting Romney as much as they are against Obama. Mitt Romney is the presumptive nominee by "the fault", the fault of his weaker opponents. Any legitimate candidate would have beaten Mitt Romney quite easily.

    April 25, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  2. T'sah From Virginia

    ►Winning Our Future, the super PAC backing Newt Gingrich, isn't quite sure what to do with itself these days.◄
    These days???????????? Really? What have they done in the PAST DAYS? Travel the country on PAC funds enjoying their vacations... Now, they are worrying about how to pay their debts and the fact they have to pay for all future vacations!!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Forward!!!

    April 25, 2012 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  3. Nija

    Shaun Hannity convinced you that you would win and just like Rush convinced old Perry of Texas. Fools rush in where angels fail to tread and I hope you would have learnt a lesson. Next time listen to your opponents before you jump into a race like this.

    April 25, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  4. Another Day in the RW Idiot MInes

    As long as Newter has a his Tiffany accounts and vacations, it's all good!

    April 25, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  5. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    It has to be hard for all the republican candidates to have the GOP candidate for their party chosen by the Kochs, Karl the turdblossom Rove and the supreme court's citizens united.

    April 25, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  6. Is Mitt a Git?

    Newt just ended his WH bid and will endorse Romney. Another fool goes down in defeat–kinda like what will happen to Romney in November.

    April 25, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  7. The REAL Truth.. (not the imposter)

    The domino's are falling. The clown circus is coming to an end. Now they will all line up behind the chief clown in an attempt to win in Nov. We know what he's running for, but have yet to hear what platform it is that Mittens is running on. [shudder].

    Oh yeah, that's right. Someone said it was the GOP platform – the party of " No! ". No platform, no ideas, no viable candidate and no chance in Nov.

    April 25, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |