Posted Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012, at 9:48 AM
PLYMOUTH, N.H. -- Newt Gingrich arrived at his first town hall of the day here, a town of nearly 5000 at the mouth of two rivers, and made his way briskly past an Occupier holding a Titantron-sized sign declaring his membership in the 99 percent.
"The whole world is watching!" he shouted. The cameras were watching Gingrich. He and his wife Callista found their places in front of 90 or so voters -- him with a purple tie, her in a black suit and pearl choker -- and opened with advice for Congress.
"I hope that the Congress will commit itself to defund the National Labor Relations Board," he said. It was a contrast, purposeful or not, with Rick Santorum -- yesterday he'd recommended that Congress "sue" the president. Gingrich hinted very strongly that he understood the options, and knew how to show very quickly that Obama held a "total willingness to violate the law."
There, that was one issue handled. Gingrich spent the rest of his opening, pre-Q&A remarks, associating various ideas he had with various attacks on Romney. "I will go to the NAACP convention," he said, if they would invite him, "and tell the African-American community why they should demand paychecks instead of food stamps." One of many ways he'd outthink Barack Obama, while Mitt Romney would be hobbled from the start. "As governor," he said, "he raised taxes. As governor, he put Planned Parenthood in Romneycare, by name."
UPDATE: Gingrich got the question that the press was planning to ask, probably in a less folksy way. "We are worried about splitting votes," asked a voter. Why vote for Newt, and not surgin' Rick Santorum?
Easy, said Gingrich: Santorum was a "junior partner" to great Republican succeses, and he'd "never run a national campaign." Gingrich had -- and hey, not just in 1994. He credited his "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less campaign" with some of the GOP's oomph in 2008. Before the collapse of Lehmann, the GOP led briefly in the polls, and part of that was due to Gingrich developing "an energy plan that people could understand."