Newt's 'frugal' life: By the numbers

Despite his six-figure jewelry-store debt, the presidential candidate claims to live modestly. His deep pockets suggest otherwise

GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista, say they live frugally, but their expensive home and massive jewelry date suggest otherwise.
(Image credit: REUTERS/Mike Theiler)

After enduring an onslaught of criticism last week following reports of that he ran up a debt as high as half a million dollars at the luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co., Newt Gingrich defended his expenses Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation. "We are very frugal," he told host Bob Schieffer. But the numbers, from his jewelry tab to the millions spent on private jets, tell a different story. Here, a brief guide, by the numbers:


Amount of debt Gingrich reportedly had on a "revolving charge" at Tiffany and Co. jewelers, according to financial disclosures

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Cost of the the Victoria Graduated Necklace that Callista Gingrich appears to be wearing in one photo, as surmised by Feifei Sun at TIME


Amount Gingrich bought his 5,200-square-foot, five-bedroom house for in 2000, in a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. He also owns a "rental property" in Wisconsin. "Compared to, say, John McCain's home count of at least eight, Gingrich's situation is downright modest," says Justin Elliott at Salon.

$2.2 million

Amount Gingrich's political flagship, American Solutions for Winning the Future, spent on private jets and executive chauffeur services for him to visit more than 30 states in 2009 and 2010. Gingrich "enjoys perks befitting a corporate CEO," says Ben Evans for the Associated Press.


Amount Mitt Romney spent on travel — typically flying commercial — in that same period, when he visited 32 states to support various candidates

$1 million

Size of the 2006 donation — from Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson — Gingrich used to start American Solutions for Winning the Future

$28.7 million

Amount American Solutions raised in the last election cycle. Amongst advocacy groups that are allowed to take unlimited donations, it was exceeded only by the Democratic and Republican governors' associations

$15.6 million

Amount Gingrich's group spent on direct mail and telemarketing, according to campaign records. That's 55 percent of the money raised. "Finding new donors costs money," says a Gingrich spokesman.

$1.3 million

Amount Mitt Romney spent on fund-raising over the past two years. He brought in $9 million from 34,219 donors. No other potential 2012 candidate spent more than $1 million.


Amount of money Gingrich funneled to a successful campaign to unseat three Iowa Supreme Court judges who supported gay marriage. "Newt's role was quiet and very low key, but it was pivotal," said Bob Vander Plaats, an Iowa conservative who led the campaign.

At least $40,000

Amount Gingrich commands for speaking engagements. He "is certainly not the first to cash in on a political career," says Evans. "But he has blazed a path unlike any other, essentially taking on the role of a politician without the hassles of holding office."


Amount Gingrich charges for wall charts detailing the bureaucracies of the Democratic health-care bill


Amount of debt Gingrich claims to have at Tiffany's now. "We in fact live within our budget," Gingrich said. "We owe nothing."

Sources: CBS News, TIME, Salon, Associated Press, Wall Street Journal

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