(Michael A. Memoli / Los Angeles…)
Reporting from Concord, N.H. — Suddenly, Newt Gingrich is eager to talk about his fundraising.
The former House Speaker said Tuesday that his presidential campaign had raised more money in October than the most recent three-month fundraising period, and he was in a position to beef up his operation as the first caucuses and primaries near.
"If we continue to improve at this pace, I think we'll be able to run a full-blown campaign and be totally competitive in terms of advertising and other things by the time we get to early January," Gingrich told reporters after filing his paperwork to become an official candidate in New Hampshire's Republican primary.
Gingrich raised $2.1 million in his debut quarter but also registered more than $1 million in debt. He'd promised to turn things around in the third quarter, but reported just $808,000 raised in the summer months, and had just $350,000 in the bank with more debt still outstanding.
Gingrich acknowledged the hard times his campaign had gone through, but he's since stayed within a tight budget, "in the tradition of New Hampshire frugality." He attributed the uptick in finances to his performance in debates.
"It meant that there was an unedited opportunity to listen to me and decide that I actually represent a campaign of real substance," he said. "The more we've done it, I think the more people have concluded that there's a substance gap that's pretty real."
He looked forward to resuming debates so that he can argue the merits of his plan for an optional flat tax against Rick Perry's new proposal, and also of course Herman Cain's "9-9-9" plan.
Comparing his to Perry's specifically, he called them very similar but said that his "is more dramatic and would have a bigger impact on economic growth." He also credited Cain for having "heightened the discussion of tax policy in a way that is very healthy for the country."
Having now become an official candidate in the state, Gingrich said there is real opportunity to do well in New Hampshire.
"I do not believe that Gov. Romney has a lock on this state," he said. "The governor has a strong lead here but the campaign has only begun in terms of ideas and issues and drawing contrasts."