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The Lucrative Business Of Running For President

Is Newt Gingrich in it to win it -- or to get paid?

ByABC News
June 14, 2011, 5:24 PM

June 15, 2011 — -- In Presidential politics, winning is no longer everything. 

Especially for Newt Gingrich, who has used his run for President as a kind of savvy marketing campaign built around his political persona.

In the last five years the former Speaker of the House has lived a life of luxury built around his empire, including millions in private jet travel, paid for with donations to a political group he founded. Gingrich's lifestyle also includes a million-dollar home in suburban Washington and jewelry from Tiffany's.

"You can do very well by running for President," said Scott Reed, a Republican strategist. "You don't always have to win." 

Sarah Palin, a little-known governor before John McCain picked her as his running mate in 2008, has turned her political celebrity into a multi-million dollar business, with books, paid speeches, and a reality TV show.

"There's a heck of a business out there for ex-politicians that have run," said Reed, who managed Sen. Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign. Reed said Palin actually has a "real choice" to make about running in 2012, "because she has a very lucrative career going right now." 

But Reed says that for some Republicans this election cycle, running for President seems mostly about marketing -- about creating or enhancing a valuable brand name.

"I mean to me it's kind of a game," said Reed. "It makes their brand have some value."

And no one seems to have realized that more than Gingrich, who has not held elective office since 1999. When he was pressed on the half-million-dollar account that he and his wife Callista had with Tiffany's on "Face the Nation," Gingrich called it a "standard, no-interest account" and said he and his wife live on a budget.

"Go talk to Tiffany's," Gingrich told host Bob Schieffer. "All I'm telling you is, we are very frugal. We in fact live within our budget."

Earlier this month, Gingrich and Callista took a cruise in the Greek isles, which led virtually his whole staff to resign, questioning whether he was more interested in selling books and DVDs than running for president.