"More and More Junk, More and More Smears." Also, Ham.

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 20 2012 9:14 PM

"More and More Junk, More and More Smears." Also, Ham.

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C.—Newt Gingrich's final event before the primary vote begins was supposed to take place on the deck of the U.S.S. Yorktown, a retired carrier that's now home to several museums and classic planes. Alas, it rained—not much, just enough to spook the electronics whizzes—so this:

photo (18)

Was replaced by this:

photo (16)

It was a veterans' event and book signing (fittingly), and Newt came prepared with a sober lecture on patriotism. He had to get past a heckler. A minute in, a man in plaid started yelling, "When will you release your tax returns?"

"If you would do your research, instead of yelling mindlessly, you would see I have." The crowd drowned the heckler out. "I assume you're for the candidate who won't release his income tax returns," said Gingrich.

"He cheats on his ethics," yelled the heckler as he was dragged away. "He cheats on his wife!"

"Off with his head!" yelled a Newt fan, one of the few not shouting, "Newt!"

Newt's lecture continued, a lesson on patriotism and sacrifice, an epistle against negative campaigns. "We've had more and more junk, and more and more smears, and I don't think we can function like that."

As he spoke, the Mitt Romney campaign released its schedule for election day:

10:45: Tommy’s Country Ham House, 214 Rutherford Street, Greenville, South Carolina

This was a surprise: Gingrich was also planning to go to the Ham House at 10:45. As the event wrapped, reporters quizzed Gingrich press chairman Nathan Naidu (a Cain campaign veteran), on what would happen.

"We would be happy to buy Gov. Romney some ham," he said.

Meanwhile, Gingrich was signing copies of his books.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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