07/25/2012 04:18 pm ET | Updated Jul 25, 2012

Rhode Island Senate Candidate Barry Hinckley To Businessmen: Run For Office For The Free PR

For one Republican Senate hopeful, the perks of running for office don't stop at fulfilling a sense of civic duty -- the race is good for business, too.

Barry Hinckley, the Rhode Island businessman running to unseat Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), gave a speech encouraging business leaders to throw their hats in the political ring for the free publicity, WPRI.com reports.

Hinckley's speech suggested businesses could use political press to their advantage as a way to weather the recession.

"Even if you lose running for office, you actually win, because you get tons of free PR," Hinckley said in the speech. "And run on a jobs platform: 'I will create jobs,'" he said. "Right? That will get free press."

But Hinckley, who was endorsed by Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), told WPRI.com that his past comments had not motivated his race against Whitehouse, citing the hundreds of thousands he's spent on his own campaign as evidence that he wasn't in the race for free publicity. At the time of the speech, he had no idea he would run, he said.

"I wanted to let these people know that even though you would be making a business sacrifice by serving, there is an upside, and that upside is you would gain some exposure, and that exposure would help your business even if you didn't win," he said.

Brown's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hinckley left the company he founded, Bullhorn Software, in order to pursue the Senate seat. But the company still grew its revenue during his race -- to $33.6 million in 2011, up 40 percent over the previous year. It was recently acquired by a private-equity firm in a nine-figure deal.

Despite his own investment in the Senate race, Hinckley faces a substantial fundraising disadvantage against Whitehouse, with just $550,000 on hand compared to the incumbent's $3.5 million.

The most recent polls, which were conducted in February, show Whitehouse with a 22-point lead over Hinckley.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misidentified a photo of Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) as Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).