While Newt Gingrich and other Republican presidential candidates were on stage debating in Michigan Wednesday night, “Time for Newt,” a “super PAC” spearheaded by Solutions 2012 launched in support of the Georgia Republican and raised $10,000 in the first two hours of being live.
A super PAC is a new form of a political action committee, but with fewer restrictions. People can give freely to the super PAC and the group can raise as much money as it wants. The only catch is it cannot have any connection to the candidate’s campaign or a political party.
The group’s founder and leader is Charlie Smith, 27, former chairman of the College Republican National Committee. He’s an Iowa native and law student at the University of Denver.
“Going to things like the caucuses infected me with the political bug early on,” Smith said.
Smith has always been a fan of Gingrich, but after seeing his performances in recent debates, he knew he was the candidate for the job this time.
A video and press release was sent out last night, asking people to “get behind Newt”:
“Smartest guy in the room.” “A genius.” “Brilliant.” “Fantastic to listen to.” “I would love to see him debate Obama.” “But he can’t win.”
“If you’re like me, every time Newt Gingrich’s name comes up, this is the kind of thing you hear. Conservatives love him. He’s clearly the smartest guy on the stage and the candidate best suited to take the fight to Obama. So why does he always get ignored? …Consider this email your permission slip to do what you’ve wanted to do all along: get behind Newt Gingrich and fight for the smartest, most electable conservative in the race.”
Smith told ABC News that the super PAC just got started a few days ago, he reached out conservatives who he knew would fund the website start-up.
“I thought it would be a great time to step in and help elect a true conservative leader,” Smith said.
The super PAC has filed with the Federal Election Commission, but the FEC says it can take up to two weeks for registration to be completed.
Smith won’t say how much the group has raised so far, but said there has been a steady flow of donors since the two-hour, $10,000 launch.
“I can say that we far surpassed our goals for the first night,” Smith said. ”[It is] another sign that people are starting to flock to Newt as a conservative they can trust as they learn more about him.”
Smith believes helping Gingrich from a distance can actually be more useful than helping from from within the campaign in getting him elected president.
“The whole idea behind creating outside organizations is to give a voice to people who want to help a candidate they believe in; that’s what we’re doing,” Smith said.
As for now, Smith said to expect the super PAC’s resources to be spent in early primary and caucus states on TV, radio and mail advertisements to help get Gingrich the nomination.