Newt Gingrich has opted not to pony up the $15,000 necessary to be a main competitor in August's Ames Straw Poll in Iowa, reports the Des Moines Register. The poll doubles as a GOP fundraiser, and candidates can essentially rent space for their supporters. Gingrich's tottering campaign is reportedly strapped for cash, and his rep did not bid at yesterday's auction. The top bidder was Ron Paul, who paid $31,000 for prime real estate. The big surprise was the No. 2 bid, which went to conservative Congressman Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan for $18,000.
McCotter has not formally announced he is joining the GOP field and tried to make his auction bid anonymously, but his representative was outed. The other four who paid to participate: Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Tim Pawlenty. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman skipped for strategic reasons, notes CNN; they're focusing on New Hampshire.