Newt Gingrich might have sounded supremely confident when he said "I'm going to be the nominee" this month, but his activities 25 days before the first caucuses in Iowa indicate he's still hedging his bets. The New York Times' Trip Gabriel reports that unlike most presidential candidates who've written books -- Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Barack Obama for example -- Gingrich is still spending a lot of precious time signing books and selling them for $25 each. Even as Mitt Romney's airing ads attacking his record and getting Gingrich's congressional colleagues to talk about his failures as a leader, Gingrich's only public event Friday is a book signing in Washington. Gingrich has done at least seven book signings since November 26.
While Gingrich was on his swing through Washington, a mere six lonely staffers were toiling away in his nearly empty Iowa campaignheadquarters when ABC News' Shushannah Walshe visited. Two volunteers were helping out -- and neither of them are eligible to vote in the caucuses because they'd come in from out of state. "No phone banking or teams of volunteers making signs," Walshe writes, things you normally see on presidential campaigns 25 days before voting. A Gingrich aide said everyone was just “out meeting with people in their hometowns and coffee shops.”
The Gingrich campaign is just as quiet in New Hampshire, which votes seven days later. Politico's Jonathan Martin reports that while Mitt Romney has a coordinator in 200 of its 234 towns, Gingrich has 25 and "a state director who’s never worked on a campaign before." Romney's office is packed with "a group of professional political operatives who’ve been toiling away in the state for most of this year; down the street is the bare-walled Gingrich headquarters, newly opened as of Nov. 11, with a mix of volunteers and new staff who all share a common trait: They measure their time on the campaign in days or weeks." Aides were still collecting phone numbers of volunteers this week, Martin reports. Though Romney remains ahead in polls, Gingrich is surging -- "But what’s puzzling veteran New Hampshire Republicans is why the former speaker is not doing more to take advantage of it." No visits since the influential New Hampshire Union Leader endorsed him over Thanksgiving weekend. No ads.
Gingrich told the Times that he's trying to change America on two fronts. Book sales represent “the cultural wing of what we’re doing ... I am a cultural teacher, with a political campaign to change a government. And that’s how I see myself.” Here's what some of that cultural leading looks like, in emails sent out by Gingrich Productions, the for-profit company headed by his wife:
The Times reports that some Gingrich fans erroneously think buying his books sends money to the campaign. It doesn't. It only enriches the Gingriches even as the campaign tries to pay off more than a million dollars in debt. "Pat Buchanan perfected this process years ago," former Gingrich aide Rick Tyler told the Times. “Pat would go run for president and then get a better contract with CNN. Others picked up on it.”
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.