Cancellation and schedule changes mark Gingrich's day
January 20th, 2012
02:01 PM ET
10 years ago

Cancellation and schedule changes mark Gingrich's day

Charleston, South Carolina (CNN) - Newt Gingrich's campaign appeared to hit a rough patch Friday after a speech was canceled due to poor attendance and a town hall was re-configured as a children's book reading the day before South Carolina's critical primary.

His first speech in Charleston was scrapped at the last minute, after the campaign was alerted by event organizers that attendance was so poor, it apparently wasn't worth showing up.

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Understandably the Gingrich camp wouldn't want the image of their candidate, who's been surging in the polls, delivering a speech in an empty basketball arena.

But that didn't stop other White House hopefuls from speaking at the sparsely attended Southern Republican Leadership Conference in downtown Charleston. Ron Paul was there Friday morning and Rick Santorum spoke to the group Thursday.

Spotted at the event was Charleston County GOP Vice Chairman Lin Bennett, who is still undecided on who she'll vote for Saturday. She told CNN she is considering Gingrich, but his backing out enforces a perception that he makes "rash decisions."

"He's a good guy, but once in a while he does this hiccup thing and that worries me," Bennett said.

The next scheduled event was supposed to be a town hall meeting with staff at the Medical University of South Carolina Children's Hospital in Charleston, but in the morning the press was alerted it would instead be a tour, followed by a visit to a children's play area.

A day after Gingrich's ex-wife Marianne blasted the former House speaker in interviews for allegedly seeking an open relationship between him, Marianne, and the woman he would later marry, Gingrich's current wife Callista, read her children's book to a handful of kids.

Just 24 hours before South Carolina voters cast their ballot in the Republican primary, cameras were focused on Callista reading "Sweet Land of Liberty," with the main character "Ellis the Elephant" in costume sitting next to her, while Gingrich carried on a conversation behind her with hospital employees.

While representatives with the campaign state the hospital visit was never intended to be a town hall, they never bothered to change it when they emailed other updates to the schedule.

Because of the canceled SRLC speech the campaign had to move the scheduled media availability to an afternoon event.

The campaign also inexplicably postponed one of their "Ask Newt" tele-town halls, scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET, to Saturday.

Gingrich, who is arguably one of the more accessible candidates who gets praise on the trail for taking questions from voters and the press, will hold two town hall meetings before the day ends.

- Follow Shawna Shepherd on Twitter: @ShepherdCNN.

Also see:

Perry drops out, endorses Gingrich

Judge-drawn Texas redistricting map tossed out by Supreme Court

Gingrich releases 2010 federal tax records

Santorum tries to shoulder past Romney, Gingrich in debate

Filed under: 2012 • Newt Gingrich • South Carolina
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Dan, TX

    I don't remember the crowds being so low in the 2008 primary, they were super-packed all the time. Bad economy discouraging people from attending?

    January 20, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Something ain't right... How can the "front runner" not have any people at his events? Is his campaign staff incompetent? Or is his "front runner" status a pipe dream??

    January 20, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  3. Just make it up

    Newts wife writes a book that has an elephant... Newt when asked what animal he would like to be, he answered an Elephant. Not only has he taken on the looks of an elephant he has also taken on the nature of an elephant. He remembers every bad deed that anyone has done to him and tramples those people. He likes to perform for people, but only on his terms. Newt, the circus is over and the big tent is being taken down... please go back to your cage and keep your mouth full and stop talking.

    January 20, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    It kind of makes one wonder just what exactly was the inspiration behind the main character, "Ellis the Elephant", in a book named "Sweet Land of Liberty." Could there have been a real world inspiration for Ellis. After all, the elephant is the symbol of the Republican Party, which constantly uses words like Liberty as a rallying cry across the land. Just wondering.

    January 20, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  5. Luke Brown

    Everyone in SC is saturated with the candidates and their campaigns. Low turnout at speaking events is symptomatic of the fact that we have heard all we need to hear. It doesn't say anything about voter enthusiasm.

    The only unresolved question is whether Newt will pass Romney... and it looks like the answer to that is "yes."

    January 20, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  6. GI Joe

    I thought she was afraid of "them". Maybe the hate is just too much for some people to be able to stomach. How much did they pay those people to hoot and holler like wild people last night?

    January 20, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  7. Claudia

    Oh there goes Newts pointy finger again...I thought we were done with him 20 years ago! I can't believe a man with his marital baggage didn't want to assuage the accustion. Me thinks, as always , Newt doth protest too much! (Shakespere) Really if he wants to be a leader of the free world he is easy pickings for any world leader to set off. Mostly I saw an opening for the other candidates to question his viability of running with this baggage and none of them did....lets face it Americans are forgiving, but not 3 times without some humility. HUMILITY is not in Gingrich's vocabulary. Sounds like a guy who might take us into some more wars because of his big head!

    January 20, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  8. Gurgi

    Things that make you go, Hmmmmmmm..........

    January 20, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  9. GI Joe

    A handful of kids and the rest adults? Photo op with a few tokens thrown in. Phhhffffffft.

    January 20, 2012 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  10. Jane

    If you really pay attention to Documented reports of how Mr. Gingrick treats/treated the women in his life, and the slightly creepy, adolescent language and behavior during the times he actually was being a husband, it's pretty damn clear the man has some serious mommy issues. Which I dont think the U.S. should have to enable, or accept in a President with the health and fate of this country in his wandering hands. Get some therapy, apologize for a LOT of crap, and we'll talk.

    January 20, 2012 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  11. Max.

    CRAZY is the word...

    It's CRAZY to see two republican NUTS battling for first place in South Carolina at the expense of the ONLY two SOBER candidates offered up for election: Santorum and Huntsman. This really shows how disconnected South Carolina's are with real issues. The religious junkies seems to be having fun proving how narrow-minded they are with regards to political reality. Religion will NEVER run this's really, really, CRAZY!!

    January 20, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  12. Omari Dice

    Romney's tax plan would raise taxes on the poor to fund a $300,000 tax cut for people that make over $1 million a year.

    Why doesn't he just eat the poor while he's at it?

    January 20, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  13. wrong turn

    It just goes to show that Newt is not the kind of person for President. ..Presidents are leaders and you would like to be around them. They inspire you to be good and aim for the stars. How can someone who had cheated on his wifes not ONCE but TWO and THREE have the charcter to have the highest office of the coutry. Yes he said, what's wrong with this country is the media brought up his "bed room" affairs instead of running the country!! Are you kidding me, your charcter defines what you see, what you breathe, what you do, and what lady you want to spend the night with..

    January 20, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  14. Omari Dice

    “Romney should not backed away or, more properly slung away, from being up front with the American people. He is eager to say a lot about how successful he is and how his adversarie­s are critical so, he should show the world just how successful he really is. Newt has his out for examinatio­n, Ron Paul said no and his tax returns are probably not very interestin­g anyway. Santorum kinda said he would. He is probably nervous about all the lobbyist earnings he has in his report. Santorum may like to tout himself as the coal miner's kin but his lifestyle in DC is a longways from the mines. In the end no one should be surprised that whether Romney, Gingrich or Santorum are elected the people can expect more of the Bush philosophy of tax cuts and corporate welfare so just take your pick, they are all pretty much the same

    January 20, 2012 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    The main point of releasing of politicians making financial disclosure statements is to put to rest allegations of conflicts of interest. If Mitt Romney is content to live questions surrounding his own personal conflicts of interest, then let him do as he wishes and let the voting public decide if he is trustworthy enought to be trusted and believed when he says that he has nothing to hide.

    "I have nothing to hide, but I am still not releasing my tax returns for more than the most recent year."

    January 20, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  16. Charlie in Maine

    Does that elephant look a little uncmfotable to you? It should be.

    January 20, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Dan, TX

    I don't remember the crowds being so low in the 2008 primary, they were super-packed all the time. Bad economy discouraging people from attending
    Nope. Look at the GOP talent pool on display and that will explain the lack of interest/attendance. From the looks of this picture they (the Newtered and his current wife) couldn't even hold the children's attention.
    Meanwhile President Obama has had NO problem packing them in!!

    January 20, 2012 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  18. Jamie from Riverside

    Voters won't turn up on election day for him either.

    January 20, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  19. Jamie from Riverside

    Hahaha, the elephant in the picture looks scared!
    Maybe Callista was looking too closely for comfort at his ivories.

    January 20, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. Rob

    The latest Mrs. Gingrich is reading her book aloud but none of the children in the picture is listening. Hmm. Must be a dull book. Maybe they'd prefer a story about a donkey instead of an elephant.

    January 20, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  21. Sorensen

    The geriatric barbie with mistress education should do ads for hairspray for AARP.

    January 20, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  22. Noodle Nose Johnson

    I will say the Calistabot is amazingly lifelike.

    January 20, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |