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Newt Gingrich: $50 per photo as campaign struggles

Newt Gingrich is now charging $50 to take a photo with him in order to raise campaign funds, reports the National Journal. The Gingrich campaign is now $1.6 million in debt.

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Rick Santorum, with seven state wins in March alone, has taken the mantle of the conservative alternative to front-runner Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts. With even Santorum under pressure to end his campaign to further party unity, Gingrich's White House bid looks even more quixotic.

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Yet Gingrich - who won only 16 percent support in Louisiana, one of the states he was supposed to do well in - has vowed to stay in the race until the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida, in August.

Gingrich has embraced the role of spoiler whose goal is to thwart Romney's chances of winning the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination before August, and instead attempt to force an open convention. There, Gingrich seems to believe he could capture the nomination.

"In a setting where I have grave doubts about Governor Romney's ability to win the general election, I have a citizen's duty to try to help us get to an open convention," Gingrich told NPR radio last week.

SMALL CROWDS

The presence of Callista beside her husband at almost every stop in the campaign has done little to help Gingrich. A Public Policy Polling survey last week showed only 18 percent of people view her favorably, versus the 44 percent who see the former congressional aide as unfavorable.

Gingrich, 68, has acknowledged having an affair with Callista, 46, while he was married to his second wife.

Gingrich's pace of campaigning has slowed since January but he has stops planned this week in Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

"This is clearly still an open race. So, on behalf of the more than 176,000 Americans who have donated to Newt 2012, I will carry our solution-oriented campaign to Tampa," Gingrich said after the Louisiana results were in.

He pulled small crowds in Louisiana, a home state of sorts after his three years studying at Tulane University in New Orleans, where he received a PhD in history.

About 20 people turned up on Friday in Port Fourchon, a remote oil services town where Louisiana's land mass gives way to the Gulf of Mexico.

They heard Gingrich talk about his plans to bring gasoline prices down to $2.50 a gallon from the current price of about $4 with a drill-more strategy.

The size of his audience was roughly the same as the combined sum of Gingrich's campaign staff, Secret Service detail and press corps.

Indeed, the media - whom Gingrich routinely criticizes in speeches - is the campaign's lifeblood now that free publicity from the many televised candidates' debates has ended.

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