A few times since the Republican Presidential primary began, people have speculated that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s goal in running was not ever to win the office, but rather to bolster his public presence. A new report may lend credence to the speculation.
According to Daily Mail, at speaking engagements throughout the country, the enterprising Gingrich has taken to charging supporters $50 to snap photos with him as he campaigns. The candidate began asking for a fee for photos of him with supporters during after a speech to Republican County groups in Hockessin, Del.
In defense of the policy, the Gingrich campaign said in a statement:
Did you see reports today we are charging for photos?
Some campaigns make you travel all the way to Wall Street to pay $2,500 for a photo with a candidate.
We are trying out a new tactic and asking our supporters at our rallies for a nominal donation.
And guess what, it is working.
We have over 175,000 donors who contribute on average $50 to $100 at a time.
We also have an online store where supporters can make a donation to receive a hat, a shirt or even a bandana for your dog.
Every dollar and every supporter count and our campaign is propelled forward one small donor at a time.
The most recent financial filings show the Gingrich campaign taking on more debt that it can cover with campaign funds raised. Gingrich told a reporter for The Atlantic that if Mitt Romney has a majority after Utah votes on June 26, he will support the former Massachusetts Governor.
Before the campaign, Gingrich made lucrative career for himself as a professional speaker.
“I did no lobbying of any kind, period,” Gingrich said at a campaign stop in South Carolina last year. “For a practical reason—and I’m going to be really direct, OK? I was charging $60,000 a speech and the number of speeches was going up, not down.”