October 24, 2014

Gingrich: voters will decide election, not “Washington news media”

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich says he’ll overcome the rough start of his campaign with “cheerful persistence.”

Gingrich has been blasted by fellow Republicans for using words like “radical” and “right-wing social engineering” during a TV interview on Sunday to describe a plan advanced by key Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“It’s been a little bit of a challenging week,” Gingrich told a crowd in Waterloo this morning.

But while some conservative commentators have gone so far as to declare Gingrich’s candidacy over, Gingrich is soldiering on, asking Iowans to help him send a message.

“Any of you who are willing to do just a brief video…on why you’re for me, it would be very helpful ’cause we have to sort of convince the Washington news media that actually the voters will decide when this election is over, not five or six pundits,” Gingrich said in Waterloo, “and that we have a lot of people who would like to see this campaign go all the way into next year and actually talk about ideas, even if it’s sometimes confusing, and actually talk about solutions.”

Gingrich had a campaign staffer, armed with a video camera, standing ready to record those testimonials. Over 100 people gathered to see Gingrich this morning in Waterloo. The crowd over the noon-hour in Marshalltown was just as large and interrupted Gingrich’s speech more than a dozen times with applause. During a question-and-answer session, no one asked Gingrich about his controversial statements. Instead, Gingrich was quizzed about topics like drilling for oil in the U.S. and immigration reform.

“This is, at the risk of — as I do on occasion — of getting into trouble with the news media,” Gingrich said, in answering the question, and a few people in the audience chuckled. “…I’m looking seriously at the way the Selective Service Act used to work in the 1940s and World War II where a local Selective Service board who knew the local people made the decisions…because I think we are going to want to find some way to deal with the people who are here to distinguish between those who have no ties to the United States and therefore you can deport them at minimum human cost, and those who, in fact, may have earned the right to become legal, but not citizens.”

The first question Gingrich fielded in Marshalltown came from a man who challenged the notion that Republicans should nominate a career politician like Gingrich in 2012. Gingrich was unapologetic.   

“Do I know a fair amount about Washington?  You betcha,” Gingrich said. “You think you’re going to send an amateur to the White House?  You just did that.” The crowd broke out into laughter and applause.

Two former state senators and a former Iowa congressman were in the crowd gathered in the Marshalltown Public Library to see Gingrich. Greg Ganske, a plastic surgeon from Des Moines, served in the U.S. House when Gingrich was speaker.

“I’m a supporter of Newt’s,” Ganske said during an interview with Radio Iowa. “He’s an old friend and I think he’d make a good president.”

As for the controversy surrounding Gingrich this week, Ganske laughed and said Gingrich “can be a little controversial sometimes.”

(Additional reporting by Jesse Gavin of KCNZ in Cedar Falls.)