LINTHICUM, Md. -- In yet another bad sign for Newt Gingrich's floundering presidential campaign, the former House speaker said Thursday night that he does not intend to participate in the Ames Straw Poll, the August table-setter for next year's Iowa caucuses, because his campaign can't afford to.
"We're probably going to be [in Iowa during the poll], but we're not going to spend [that] kind of money," Gingrich said outside a Baltimore-area fundraising dinner for the Republican Party of Maryland, at which he was the keynote speaker.
The Ames poll is widely seen as an early measurement of a candidate's viability, signaling to supporters and moneyed donors how seriously they should take a given campaign. A positive result could help fill a candidate's coffers -- but Gingrich suggested he didn't have the funds to lay out.
“If you look at people who have enormous personal wealth, they can compete differently than we can," he added, in an apparent swipe at some of his Republican competitors, who include multi-multimillionaires Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman.
Of course, Gingrich’s own net worth is estimated at $10 million, although he has declined to disclose his finances since leaving Congress. And the former speaker has taken heat recently for maintaining not one, but two personal lines of credit at Tiffany's, which are estimated as high as $1.5 million combined.
The figure most threatening to Gingrich's primary prospects, however, may be the $1 million in debt that his campaign reportedly carries -- debt that compelled members of his finance team to quit abruptly last week.
Gingrich declined to comment Thursday night as to whether he will hire more staff following the departure of more than a dozen key campaign strategists and fundraisers in the past two weeks. Speculation that he would skip the Ames poll first surfaced Thursday afternoon when his campaign declined to purchase a lot. At the time, Gingrich's spokesman said the campaign was still considering whether it would participate.
Poll or no, Gingrich said he plans to spend the weekend in Iowa and make 12 trips to the state in July.
Pressed further about his campaign’s financial position by The Huffington Post, Gingrich said, "I ask everyone for money and I would love to have your support.”