WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Votes aren’t the only thing not adding up for Republican Newt Gingrich’s struggling presidential bid: His campaign is officially in the red.
At the end of February, the campaign had only $1.5 million in cash on hand while its debts totaled $1.6 million, filings with the Federal Election Commission showed on Tuesday.
Gingrich was briefly a frontrunner in the topsy-turvy Republican nominating contest but he has trailed his main rivals badly in the latest state races, including a fourth-place finish on Tuesday in the Illinois primary.
And yet, Team Gingrich vows to plow through, all the way to the Republican National Convention in August.
“We’re preparing a campaign plan that looks to the future regardless of what the financial circumstances are and it’s a plan to go to Tampa,” said senior Gingrich adviser Bob Walker.
“The fundraising is not going to be a crucial element. ... We’ve run lean campaigns in the past and we’re certainly capable of running a lean campaign again.”
Just like Rick Santorum, Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, has struggled to promote himself as a conservative alternative to frontrunner Mitt Romney. Unlike Santorum, Gingrich has failed to retain momentum with strong performances in the state-by-state primaries and caucuses.
The Gingrich campaign brought in a modest $2.6 million in February, FEC filings showed. It spent $2.8 million and remained heavily in debt to about 90 individuals and companies for consulting, advertising, telemarketing and other services.
Nonetheless, the campaign paid Gingrich personally $156,360 for travel, according to Tuesday’s FEC filing. In total, the campaign so far has paid Gingrich and his company, Gingrich Productions, $589,829.
The payments to Gingrich and his companies had previously attracted FEC attention. At the time, his spokesman said Gingrich had to front some of his expense money and file for reimbursement because the campaign could not get a credit card.
Much of Gingrich’s early energy spurt was fueled by his allies at the Winning Our Future Super PAC.
Run by his longtime aides and unconstrained by fundraising limits, the independent political action committee invested millions in advertising on Gingrich’s behalf in January. The lion’s share came from a single rich donor and Gingrich loyalist, billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.
Over the course of the campaign, the Super PAC has raised $18.9 million, with $16.5 million of that coming from Adelson and his family. They gave $5.5 million in February, which was spent on TV and radio ads around the country.
Advertising is creeping up in price as the nominating contest heads into bigger, and more expensive, states.
The Gingrich campaign had a near-death experience last summer when many of his aides abandoned him. He rebounded after a surprising victory in South Carolina in January, but has since faded from the spotlight as Republicans battle for the right to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama on November 6.
Gingrich, however, citing the tortoise and the hare analogy, says he will take the competition one step at a time.
“He has a platform. He’s obviously highly intelligent. He has nothing to lose by staying in,” said Jennifer Thompson, a political scientist at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Additional reporting by Alexander Cohen and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Marilyn W. Thompson and Doina Chiacu