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CBS News is reporting that Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has put his donor lists on the market, a sign that the cash-strapped campaign has had to put its bread-and-butter on the line to try to pay its bills.
Saddled with $4.5 million in debt, the former House Speaker's campaign put its lists of donors and activists for sale with a broker called TMA Direct, which touted on its website "exclusive management of the Newt for President 2012 files."
The campaign set a rate of $50 per 1,000 small-donor names, and $135 per 1,000 larger donor names.
"That's not unusual for lists of that size and quality, and they're good quality lists. ... It's not an outrageous amount of money," said a fundraiser of the major donor list, which has 193,963 names. The small donor list has 388,210 names.
While the fundraiser said he would "love" to use Gingrich's donor lists, his organization would only order a sample of about 5,000 names out of concern that the campaign's failure to segregate mail, email, and telemarketing accounts on the lists wouldn't serve their purposes.
But Nathan Wurtzel, a conservative fundraiser and Gingrich donor, said the bold move to sell the lists - one of the campaign's key assets - can't hurt Gingrich as he attempts to climb out of a $4.5 million campaign debt.
"As a fundraiser it strikes me as smart ... if you can get a good deal for it, and as a donor I don't mind at all. If I don't want to give to people, I won't," Wurtzel said. He likened the potential of a Gingrich donor list to former President George W. Bush's donors in 2004, which "was a great renting list for years," he said. "Newt's got a good list. His supporters have already given this cycle, so we know it's current. ... I think people know where this campaign is headed."
In a press briefing Saturday, Gingrich was asked why he decided to rent his donor lists. "Money. It's a very common reason people rent things out. We wanted the money," he said, adding that he's not concerned about the lists being used by other presidential candidates, likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
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Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said the campaign is finding additional ways to cut costs every day. "The scale of the campaign has been reduced. That was step one," he said of the campaign's decision to slash two-thirds of its staff. "Also costing more money was our travel, and we reduced the amount of time he's traveling, finding new ways to make a lot out of a little."