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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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Gingrich's crowds, smaller these days, still often fawn over the former House speaker's grasp of detail and ability to jump from one large topic to another.

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Milo Young, 65, of Grande Isle, Louisiana, called Gingrich "one of the most intelligent men in the country." Perhaps no compliment could top that of Anna Furney, 62, of Plant City, Florida, who termed meeting Gingrich "one of the most exciting moments of my life - you know, like when you have that first baby laid in your arms?"

"CHEERFUL" NEWT

Gingrich was relaxed in Louisiana, where his week-long, campaign swing was heavy on food, folks and fun.

"I've done more gumbo this week ... it was fun," Gingrich told reporters in Louisiana, referring to one of the state's signature dishes.

Arguably, the long campaign has given him everything from a louder voice in the national debate, recently on energy policy, to more quality time with his grown daughters, Kathy Gingrich Lubbers and Jackie Gingrich Cushman, who have significant roles with Newt 2012 and were by his side in New Orleans.

Although he might still harbor hopes that Santorum or even Romney could begin to lose momentum, Gingrich may also be keeping himself in the campaign as long as possible to boost sales of his many books and improve his already lucrative public speaking opportunities. Gingrich in November said he "was charging $60,000 a speech" in recent years.

Book signings by Gingrich and his wife were at one point a standard add-on to campaign events. The pair have also held screenings of their film "A City Upon a Hill," about the concept of American exceptionalism.

"It seems like the big parts of his life (at least his public life) are giving speeches, writing books, lobbying, and fundraising. Running for president is complementary to the other activities and this is peak season, so why not get a good run out of it?" Glaser said.

But the campaign is gasping for air after wins in only two states, Georgia and South Carolina, dried up fundraising. At the end of February, the campaign had only $1.5 million in cash on hand while its debts totaled $1.6 million. Reports have surfaced of vendors in early voting states still waiting to be paid for their services.

Much of Gingrich's early spurt was fueled by his allies at the Winning Our Future Super PAC.

The group has raised $18.9 million, with $16.5 million of that coming from Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his family, who are counting on Gingrich to make his staunch support of Israel a central campaign issue.

The Super PAC can keep ads on the air, but cannot directly pay for items such as hotels, charter jets and staff salaries. High costs incurred for private planes have dogged the Gingrich campaign from the start.

(Editing by Alistair Bell and Eric Beech)

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