Gingrich's 527 group rakes in $6.4 million
He can't use it to campaign - per se. As this Politico article by Ken Vogel points out, the former speaker can still use the cash for campaign-like expenses; office staff, polling, travel, etc.
American Solutions is a so-called 527 group, allowing it to accept unlimited donations from individuals and corporations, while the others' groups are political action committees, which are limited to maximum donations of $5,000 per-person-per-year. Though PACs are able to make contributions to federal campaigns, while 527s can't, both types of groups can be used to pay for staff, consulting, polling, fundraising, office space and travel, all things that can help ambitious politicians lay the groundwork for presidential campaigns.
According to a report filed Friday night with the Internal Revenue Service, American Solutions relied on some huge donations to pull in $6,360,032 between July 1 and Dec. 31.
In that same span, according to reports filed this weekend with the Federal Election Commission, Romney's PAC brought in more than $1.6 million, Palin's raised nearly $1.4 million and Pawlenty's raked in nearly $1.3 million, though it's only been up and running for three months.
But the significance of Newt's fundraising efforts is that if - and that's a big if - he decides to run, he has a significant donor base on which to call for campaign funds.
Here he is talking to Tavis Smiley, saying he will decide early next year whether its a go or no go:
If you google up "gingrich considering run" you will see a half dozen different dates on which remarks made in different venues by Gingrich has fueled speculation he will run for president. We are used to these kinds of teases by Newt and he seems to enjoy the attention such nebulous statements about his future plans engender.
It's not like we don't know that he wants to be president. Such has been the case since he stepped into the Capitol building as a freshmen congressman 30 years ago. But this time around, you get the sense that Gingrich is serious. He is 66 years old, some of the personal and professional baggage he would carry into a presidential campaign is fading into history and might not be such a drag on his ambitions as they would have been in 2000 (No Republican would have challenged Bush in 2004 and a smart Republican would have seen 2008 as a Democratic year).
He has softened his image over the years - much to the chagrin of many on the right who view his flirtations with Hillary, Pelosi, and other liberals with a jaundiced eye - and his appeal has broadened slightly with independents.
But his negatives are still very high and there are few conservative politicians who can raise the hackles of the left more quickly. He is seen as out of touch by many in the base of the GOP and his strong support for Dede Scozzafava in the New York 23 special election made him even more enemies on the right.
But the spark of ambition burns brightly in this brilliant, erratic man and it's hard to just turn it off. Will he run? My personal opinion is that he will reluctantly conclude he has very little chance of winning the GOP primary and perhaps even less chance in a general election fight against Obama. And since Newt has more than demonstrated over time that he is a practical politician, this would mean he will probably not be a candidate in 2012.
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky