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Gingrich Proves a Winner In Money-Raising Stakes

By John E. Yang, Peter Baker and Terry M. Neal
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, August 2, 1997; Page A10

House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) may be plotted against by colleagues, berated by conservative activists and disliked by those questioned in opinion polls, but he is still raising a lot of money.

In the first six months of the year, his campaign committee took in a whopping $1.8 million – more than double what it raised in the first half of 1995 – Gingrich's first months as House speaker.

The committee, which also finances Gingrich's political activities not directly related to his reelection to the House, raised $6.3 million for the 1996 election cycle and spent $5.6 million. His Democratic opponent, businessman Michael Coles, spent $3.3 million, most of it from his own pocket.

In the first half of the year, Gingrich used $232,958 in campaign funds to pay legal fees related to his ethics case, bringing his total legal fees the last three years to $922,617.

Gingrich's fund-raising success, detailed in a report filed with the Federal Election Commission, comes even as his standing in public opinion polls continues to slide.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found that 54 percent of the 1,002 Americans questioned this week said they had negative feelings about the speaker. Only 18 percent said they had positive feelings, down from 21 percent the month before. Even among those who said they are Republicans, 35 percent said they had negative feelings.

But his campaign committee said Gingrich's fund-raising report "is evidence that, among Republican activists, Newt Gingrich has by far the largest base of support – easily larger than any other elected Republican – in the entire country."

Other Gingrich allies note he has the strongest national fund-raising base of the potential 2000 GOP presidential candidates. Gingrich has not ruled out a bid for his party's nomination.

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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