presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, the
author of 23 books including 12 New York
Times bestsellers, signs copies of them
for many of the 200 people turned out to
see the Georgian at the Santa Maria Winery
in Carroll. Photo by Douglas Burns |
As he surged to the top of two national polls,
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich
spent nearly three hours at the Santa Maria
Winery in Carroll, speaking with voters, taking
questions, signing books and screening a movie
he co-developed celebrating Pope John Paul II.
Gingrich also conducted a 10-minute interview
with The Carroll Daily Times Herald and La Prensa,
an Iowa Spanish-language newspaper, before going
on air nationally with Fox News’ Sean Hannity
from a makeshift, temporary studio on the west
side of the winery.
Momentum had turned decidedly in his favor in
the hours before he addressed nearly 200 people
at John and Rose Guinan’s local winery.
Public Policy Polling just days ago showed Gingrich,
the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Georgia, with 28 percent support in national
GOP primary surveying. Businessman Herman Cain
was in second at 25 percent with former Massachusetts
Gov. Mitt Romney garnering 18 percent, according
to the polling firm.
Another national poll of Republican voters released
recently — this one from CNN — had Romney at
24 percent, Gingrich at 22 percent and Cain
at 14 percent in the race for the GOP presidential
“This is a year when substance and solutions
matter,” Gingrich said in the interview. “I
think like the conversation tonight, I don’t
give them slogans. I don’t try to make them
feel better with things that are patently untrue.
And I think people are really looking for a
leader who will work with them to develop real
At one point in the local interview, Gingrich
described himself as follows: “I’m a genuine,
That considered, Gingrich said the series of
nationally-televised Republican presidential
debates has helped his campaign, resurrected
it really, because voters can assess him directly.
“Frankly, without the debates, my campaign would
have been dead because the news media wouldn’t
have covered it, and I couldn’t have raised
the kind of money that Mitt Romney and Rick
Perry could raise,” Gingrich said.
One of the former House speaker’s major strengths
is now coming to the fore with voters, he said.
“I’m the only national candidate running,” Gingrich
said. “I’ve led a national movement to win control
of the House.”
Gingrich noted that he played a key role with
welfare reform and federal budget work in the
“None of the other candidates have that type
of background,” Gingrich said. “I think gradually
it began to sink in to people.”
The Public Policy Polling group’s survey clearly
shows that Gingrich’s momentum draws heavily
on Republicans who have abandoned Cain, a former
Godfather’s CEO who faces allegations of sexual
harassment and has stumbled on foreign-policy
questions in recent days.
In one instance, Cain clearly did not know that
China has nuclear capabilities. The Daily Times
Herald asked Gingrich if Cain’s lack of knowledge
about a world superpower on a life-and-death
military issue should be disqualifying for White
“I think voters have to decide that,” Gingrich
said. “It’s not my job to decide it. Different
people have different strengths. Herman Cain
is a very attractive and very articulate businessperson
who has a very impressive background in business.
He doesn’t have a background in government.
Everybody has strengths and weaknesses.”
La Prensa asked Gingrich’s reaction to an often-repeated
line from Cain about constructing a border fence
with Mexico so that it can electrocute immigrants,
and possibly even snare them in an associated
moat stocked with alligators.
“It was a bad idea,” Gingrich said.
He added, “I hope he was joking. I’d like to
think he was joking.”
Gingrich then turned to his own immigration
plans, calling for control of the border in
a way that is “human and practical.”
“I’m working on an immigration program which
is firm but at the same time has a human aspect
to it that I think most Hispanic Americans would
appreciate,” Gingrich said.
Earlier, in a question-and-answer session with
voters in the winery, Gingrich said he wanted
to impose severe penalties for employers who
hired undocumented workers. Moreover, he put
forward a plan modeled on the Selective Service
System used by the military in World War II
in which local committees of citizens could
help determine the immigration status of a city’s
illegal residents based on factors like how
long they’ve lived in the area, family roots
and contributions socially and in business.
Gingrich said rhetoric about deporting all illegal
immigrants isn’t realistic.
“I think it’s very unlikely the American people
are going to break up families,” Gingrich said.
In other remarks to the audience, Gingrich said
he is “deeply opposed to raising taxes” in a
recession. He said opening up offshore drilling
in the United States is a way to boost revenue
through royalties. Gingrich also had strong
comments on education, saying schools too often
seek to provide students with unearned self-esteem
and academic diplomas or degrees.
“None of the Founding Fathers would think that
made any sense because it’s fundamentally a
lie,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich, a former history professor at West
Georgia College, reminded the audience that
President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for Americans
to pray on the radio during the hours after
D-Day and at other points in World War II.
A president today would be challenged if he
took such measures, Gingrich said.
“We’d probably have an ACLU lawsuit against
the president,” Gingrich said.
In the interview with The Daily Times Herald,
Gingrich said he wants to take federal money
away from Planned Parenthood and funnel it into
an adoption-promotion program.
“I come out of a background where my father
was adopted and I was adopted,” Gingrich said.
“We have a very deep sense that this culture
has made it all too easy to end a life than
to find a way to encourage a life.” CV
Douglas Burns is a fourth-generation Iowa
newspaperman who writes for The Carroll Daily
Times Herald and offers columns for Cityview.