Wow. Our experiment is off to a great start—let's see if we can finish it off sooner than expected.
In 1976, fresh off his second failed congressional bid, Newt Gingrich did what any reasonable man in his shoes would have done: He decided that he would run for president, tentatively scheduling his future campaign for 2000 or 2004. "We were all discussing the timing, his age, working out the one-term and two-term presidencies in between," someone close to the then-political novice told Vanity Fair two decades later, shortly after Gingrich had ascended to the position of speaker of the House. "I think the plan is still going. I think he will be president."
Gingrich may have missed his deadline by eight to 12 years, but finally he has realized his plan—well, the campaign side of it, anyway. Along the way, he and his supporters have spent tens of millions in the quest to cement his status in the annals of American political legends. Here's a look at how much money Gingrich and his affiliated political groups (once known as "Newt Inc.") have gone through since the late '80s:
1987-1994: Friends of Newt Gingrich (congressional campaign committee): $6.3 million
1994-1995: GOPAC: $15 million (raised, estimated)
1997-1998: Friends of Newt Gingrich: $7.6 million
1995-1998: Monday Morning PAC: $3.1 million
1997-2000: Friends of Newt Gingrich PAC: $1.6 million
2006-2010: American Solutions for Winning the Future (527): $51.4 million
2009-2012: American Solutions PAC: $794,000
2011-2012: Newt 2012 (presidential campaign committee): $2.5 million
2011-2012: Strong America Now (super-PAC): $125,000
2011-2012: Winning Our Future (super-PAC): $4.2 million
TOTAL, 1987-2012: $92.6 million
That comes out to more than $3.6 million raised or spent annually, on average, since 1987. Which, depending how you look at it, isn't a lot to spend on one's presidential ambitions—or a whole lot to spend on a dream that now looks all but doomed. (Numbers based on data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, the New York Times, and my colleague Tim Murphy's roundup of Gingrich's shady '90s fundraising operation.)