With a presidential campaign on death watch, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is in the Lowcountry this week to show his presidential aspirations are still alive.
Gingrich will be speaking at a Charleston Tea Party town hall Tuesday and at a meeting of electric cooperatives Wednesday morning.
The candidate last visited Charleston in April to headline a high-profile rally at the USS Yorktown. Since then, the campaign has hit bump after bump. First came reports of a credit line as high as $1 million to high-end jewelery store Tiffany’s and then came an ill-timed, two-week vacation on the Mediterranean just as other candidates were revving up their campaigns.
Last month, a flood of top staff and advisers jumped ship, including key South Carolina operative and former state party chair Katon Dawson. Gingrich has since been trying to get back on his feet. He responded to the exodus by telling Fox News’ Sean Hannity that he felt “liberated.”
The answer is not anytime soon if you look at the candidate's ambitious schedule. This isn’t the arms-length campaign we’ve been hearing about for months. Instead, Gingrich will be spending much of July in Iowa, where GOP voters will get a first chance to pick their favorite.
The South Carolina detour this week will be brief but very important. Mike Huckabee, the 2008 Iowa Caucus winner, will tell you that win won’t carry much weight without another early victory soon after — making the Palmetto State a key win for Gingrich.
This will be the Charleston tea party’s second official visit from a primary hopeful, said Joanne Jones, a CTP organizer. “It’s important the voters get to meet the candidates,” she said.
The first event with former Sen. Rick Santorum earlier this year provided a chance to ask questions of the candidate in a way that might not be possible at a diner visit or campaign bus stop. “We’re not there for a long stump speech,” Jones said. “We’re there to ask questions of these candidates.”
The tea party town hall will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in North Charleston City Hall at 2500 City Hall Lane, just off of Mall Drive. According to the campaign, Gingrich will also be speaking at an electric cooperative event at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at Charleston Place Hotel at 205 Meeting St.