There have been plenty of things about the 2012 presidential race that have been remarkable: the rotation of front-runners, the number of debates, and the evolution of BuzzFeed from a destination for photos of amusing cats to a destination for campaign ads featuring cats.
On Tuesday, supporters of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich saw something else unusual-- an email with the subject line: "A special offer for Newt's supporters." Its contents? Thirty days free (plus 10 percent off) of a membership with LifeLock, the identity-theft protection company.
Naturally, the online promo code for this deal is "NEWT".
The Gingrich campaign declined to comment on the LifeLock promotion.
In a statement to NPR, LifeLock said, "We have no direct affiliation with Newt Gingrich." It cited a relationship with TMA Direct, a direct marketing company that is managing Gingrich's donor list. Last week, Politico reported that Gingrich was renting out his list of donors for as much as $26,000, just the latest sign of the campaign's financial woes.
In March, the campaign cut a third of its staff and started charging $50 for a photo with the candidate.
Gingrich himself has made no secret of the financial strain his campaign faces, telling Fox News earlier this month that his campaign debt was "slightly less" than a reported $4.5 million. He also acknowledged that erasing the debt from a presidential campaign takes some time:
"Hillary [Clinton] came out of the 2008 campaign owing $25 million. I mean, you go out and you do fundraisers and you work things out with people and spend a fair amount for a couple of years raising money."
Some pundits speculated that selling the donor list could turn off potential backers who could help pay down some of the campaign debt. It remains to be seen whether that's true, or whether receiving advertisements will turn off any of Gingrich's remaining supporters.
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