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Gingrich Raises Money for Candidate

April 21, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ As House speaker, Newt Gingrich was a prodigious fund-raiser for GOP candidates around the country as well as for himself.

Four months after leaving office, he has signed his first fund-raising letter on behalf of a candidate, former Rep. Mike Parker, running in a contested primary in Mississippi.

``We became friends and allies because I admired the way he always stood up for his conservative, pro-family beliefs,″ Gingrich wrote. ``Day in and day-out in Washington, I watched Mike take on the liberals on issue after issue,″ Gingrich added in the appeal, a copy of which was mailed to a Democratic senator at his congressional office.

Parker retired from Congress late year and is one of three Republicans vying for the nomination to replace GOP Gov. Kirk Fordyce, who is barred by state law from seeking a third term.

Parker, a former Democrat, switched to the GOP after Republicans won control of the House in 1995. He was allied closely with Gingrich, and helped him weather an internal coup in 1997.

``Republican activists consider him the father of the revolution,″ Parker said in a telephone interview. ``He’s still very popular around the country, especially in Mississippi.″ Gingrich also campaigned personally for Parker earlier this year.

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To judge by their recent fund-raising appeal, House Republicans are in tough shape financially with the next elections 19 months away.

``Right now we are faced with an emergency situation,″ the GOP campaign committee headlined a recent fund-raising appeal to some of its donors.

``Last month we fell $267,500 short of the money needed to fund our incumbent support programs,″ said the appeal, which was sent out over the signature of Donna Anderson, the campaign committee’s treasurer.

``Add this $267,500 to the $538,700 we need to get through April and you’ll understand why I’m so upset ... either we raise $806,200 by April 30th, or we immediately begin slashing our candidate recruitment efforts, delaying our candidate training schools and curtailing our staff.″

At the committee, spokeswoman Jill Schroeder said: ``We have ongoing efforts to raise money for the committee. If you don’t raise enough money you have to cut expenses.″

The committee’s current leadership ``inherited a hard money debt of over $3 million,″ she added.

Republicans are not expected to disclose their fundraising totals until June 30, although officials said donors have responded to recent fund-raising solicitations.

Democrats trumpeted their first quarter fund-raising last week, saying they had raised $6.8 million in the first three months of the year.

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Congressional Republicans will travel to the nation’s heartland next week to tout their proposals for locking up Social Security surpluses.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi, Sen. John Ashcroft of Missouri and Rep. Jim Talent of Missouri are scheduled to attend a ``town hall″ meeting in St. Louis on Monday evening. The event coincides with Lott’s decision to bring Social Security ``lockbox″ legislation to the Senate floor, where it is has drawn opposition from the White House and Democrats.

Republicans are eager to change the polls that show that voters trust Democrats more than the GOP to deal with Social Security.

The House GOP leadership had planned a two-day tour to several cities earlier this month to stress their commitment to setting aside the surplus. Those plans were scrubbed, a decision officials said at the time was due to the ongoing air war over Yugoslavia.

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