Gingrich mixes pleasure and politics at the zoo
March 16th, 2012
11:10 PM ET
10 years ago

Gingrich mixes pleasure and politics at the zoo

New Orleans, Louisiana (CNN) – In between checking out the flamingoes and elephants at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans Friday, Newt Gingrich touched on challenges for Mitt Romney and why his GOP presidential rival is keeping Gingrich in the race.

He made the comments while chatting politics with his zoo tour guide, Audubon Nature Institute head Ron Forman.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

Contrary to what he’s been saying for weeks, Gingrich suggested he would bow out of the Republican delegate hunt if Romney is close to the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination by the GOP convention this summer.

“Well it depends, if we are successful and he doesn’t have an absolute – if he doesn’t have 1,000 delegates, I mean you know, if he’s close, attrition will get him the last 100,” Gingrich said of Romney, when Forman asked if would go to the convention. “But if he’s under 1,000 delegates, I don’t think he’s going to get the nomination.”

Gingrich suggested Romney has a Napoleon complex, based on the way he is campaigning negatively against him and Rick Santorum.

“With both Santorum and me, he's now confused as to who he is attacking. It's his only technique. I tell people he's like a 4-foot-8 guy who wants to play center and his only technique is to shrink the others, which I think bodes very badly for a general election,” Gingrich said.

The former House speaker was in Louisiana campaigning ahead the state’s March 24 Republican primary. Gingrich attended a luncheon fundraiser at Galatoire’s on Bourbon Street and spoke to about 100 people at Ye Olde College Inn restaurant before he detoured from the campaign trail to visit a zoo, one of his favorite pastimes.

He held a rally on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain in Covington Friday evening, and said he plans to continue campaigning in the state next week.

Gingrich believes he holds an advantage in Louisiana because he lived in New Orleans in the 1960s when he was in college. As he was leaving the elephant exhibit, a reporter asked Gingrich about his chances in Louisiana and he said, “I feel good about it having been a Tulane graduate.”

After losing southern states Alabama and Mississippi to Santorum on Tuesday, Gingrich needs another victory to help keep his presidential hopes alive. He compared his campaign challenges to New Orleans recovering from the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“It’s a little bit like you after the hurricane - it’s more difficult and challenging than I thought it would be, but the direction is right and you can feel it beginning to work,” he said.

Forman, who once ran for mayor of New Orleans, lamented to Gingrich about the negative tone of the GOP race, fueled by ads run mostly by Romney and the Restore Our Future super PAC supporting Romney’s candidacy.

As Gingrich toured the zoo with his sleeves rolled up he noted the negative campaigning was going to hurt Romney and his ability to govern. He said, “Well, I think it makes it hard for him to, A– to beat Obama, and B– to govern.”

When he wasn’t talking about the challenging GOP race, Gingrich was learning about the animals inhabiting the Audubon Zoo. He spent some time with Panya, the 45-year-old 11,000-pound Asian elephant. “They like a hard pat,” he said as he patted Panya’s back.

Gingrich has a well-documented fascination with zoos, beginning in early childhood when he tried to establish a zoo in his hometown of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, when he was 11 years old. CNN’s Piers Morgan interviewed him at a zoo in South Carolina in January, and he made an unscheduled stop at the San Diego Zoo on February 14, later telling reporters the visit was a Valentine’s Day present to himself.

Also see:

Rush Limbaugh joins Twitter

New DNC video pits Romney against women

With or without Adelson, Gingrich aims for Tampa

Filed under: 2012 • Louisiana • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. ourjungle

    Only the lowest form of politician would use a zoo as a political prop...but that does fit Newt's overbearing,I'm in charge attitude. It appears that Newt is in this presidental race, mainly for the Super PAC inheritence. Yes, politicians can do what every they want with the millions in their Super PAC after they drop out of the race.....therfore; we can expect Newt to hang in there to the bitter long as there are suckers to fleece. Search article " Few Rules control Super PAC donations after a candidate withdraws from a race".

    March 17, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  2. tds

    The sign on the marquee: PUPPET SHOW and Newt Gingrich

    March 17, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  3. Voiceinthewind

    I thought they put Green-Grinch in the Zoo with the Apes. I must have misread the headline.

    March 17, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Careful there, Newt. A playful elephant is deadly to humans.

    March 17, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  5. GI Joe.

    Kind to animals but devastates humans that are not like him. Hmppfff.

    March 17, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  6. pseudo

    He's campaigning to the animals that was funny. look the elephant is almost uncomfortable being photograph with him.
    as if saying get me out of here.

    March 17, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  7. dabble

    I always knew that the vast majority (if not all) of G's supporters were animals.

    March 17, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  8. longtooth

    Gingritch has an almost human quality, which puts him miles ahead of Romney, and light years ahead of Santorum. Too bad he's such a psychopath.

    March 17, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  9. RINO Bil

    Gingrich is the one wearing a red tie, right?

    March 17, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  10. tom

    Seperated at birth....I see Newt found his long lost sibling at that it wasn't a complete waste of everyone's time..well, actually someone ought to apologize to the animals.

    March 17, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  11. John B.

    That elephant has a better chance of being elected. In fact...I'd vote for it over him any day.

    March 17, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  12. caeser

    Newt and the Elephant... by Dr.Seuss.

    March 17, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  13. geg

    newt the zoo-keeper -whats next the baboon cage

    March 17, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  14. carly

    Gingrich finally found the place that he belongs. Just sorry for the other animals there. He will surely try to run the show. lol

    March 17, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  15. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    Looks like old Newt found his place in politics afterall - a ZOO! I didn't waste my time reading a dead-end story about the 9th Wonder of the World, Newt GetRich$$, but let me guess: he plans on using elephants on the moon to move rocks to build a Pyramid there. Is that about right?

    March 17, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  16. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    You can tell that the elephants don't want Newt either. Even the zoo keeper is wondering what in the world is an old fat white haired loser doing trying to cuddle up to an elephant.

    March 17, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  17. How Apropos

    How apropos! Newt being at home in a zoo as the Republicans have created a zoo for their political party!

    March 17, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  18. Sid Fein

    It's sad to see the likes of Santorum winning against a true fiscal conservative. The party is making a big mistake passing Gingrich over.

    March 17, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  19. Looking For Votes In There

    He obviously feels comfortable in the zoo next to his party's mascot! Better stay there Newt, you'll get more votes from those "residents" which the zoo keeps than from actual voting Americans!

    March 17, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |

    Well that's appropriate. That's exactly where he should a zoo!

    March 17, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  21. mj

    his biggest supporters are monkeys!

    March 17, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  22. A Real Zoo For Them

    You've all heard the saying 'It's a jungle out there.' But for Newt and his party, it's a real Zoo out there the way their political goings-on are transpiring and with no end in sight! No wonder he came "home" to roost in familiar surroundings!

    March 17, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  23. M-W-T

    Which one is the elephant????
    Cuz the one without the white shirt is much better looking.

    March 17, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  24. FunnyHaha... NotFunnyOdd

    Yep, right where the elephants should be... in the zoo, behind bars.

    March 17, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  25. ED FL

    Wonder if Newt was hoping some people would not notice he didn't have a trunk and feed him.Little humor Newt!!!! You Gop'ers are a hoot,you will try anything to ry and get a vote. Obama is going to send all you GOP'ers to the bankruptcy court while he sits on a KAJILLION Dollars that he doesn't have to spend due to inept opposition.

    March 17, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
1 2 3