MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Newt Gingrich's first post-debate event of the day, the start of his final pre-primary tour, is at Don Quijote, a Mexican/Carribean (I don't understand, either) restaurant just off the main drag. Inside were a bunch of Spanish-language campaign fliers, like these
The first person I saw inside was not a New Hampshire voter, but Carl Paladino. Yes, that Carl Paladino. The 2010 Republican nominee for governor of New York. He'd come to town to help out Gingrich, in part because "we're setting up his campaign in New York," and in part because "he's of my cut, he's like me."
"Romney's a plastic tool of the Republican establishment," said Paladino. "He's got his 25 percent, and we're tryin' to get the conservative 75 percent." He was optimistic about this. "At some point, the voters figure out that Ron Paul will head back to his mothership, and that Huntsman's in over his head, and that Perry's just angling for a job."
This was supposed to be a Hispanic town hall event of some kind. There were few Hispanics in the crowd, but there were non-white Newt-curious voters. Pastor Max Darbouze, a native of Haiti who'd voted for Barack Obama in 2008, sported a Newt 2012 button and said he could vote for him if he had a good, path to legalization immigration plan.
But what am I talking about? Actual issues? Sorry: By holding this in Manchester, Gingrich risked and achieved the wrath of publicity seeking Occupiers and fringe candidates.
They scouted the location, then found a space outside next to windows that looked right in on Gingrich's speech. A drummer walked back and forth, succeeding in drowning out some of Gingrich's speech. The speaker didn't break, not for a second. Vermin Supreme, a local kook of convenience who runs for president every four years, joined the protesters with his bumper-stickered megaphone.
"Newt! Newt! Newt!" shouted Vermin (or Supreme). "We have you surrounded. Come out with your hands up and your pants down!"
Gingrich chugged right on.
"If you have a legal guest worker program --"
"-- someone can apply to be a guest worker."
The megaphone got passed around. "One of Newt Gingrich's staffers physically assaulted a demonstrator!" shouted a protester.
Gingrich was unfazed, taking a question about campaign finance. "I think it's a practical reality that people who want to influence the government find a place to do it... we are drifting to a society where millionnaires buy office."