By Kayla Craig/Freelancer
DES MOINES — The sparse crowd at Newt Gingrich’s caucus headquarters at Veterans Memorial Auditorium began to grow about 10 p.m. as anticipation of Gingrich’s arrival began to grow.
Red, white and blue lights lit the vast, high walls and “Eye of the Tiger” blared as Gingrich entered to a noisy crowd. The tone of the night became lively, but not quite boisterous, as Gingrich took the stage Tuesday night.
“This is much more laid back. Significantly more empty than Romney, but the results aren’t surprising. It’s kind of what we expected,” said Rachel Caufield, associate professor of politics at Drake University.
“I don’t know what Gingrich’s strategy needs to be. New Hampshire is not his best chance, and South Carolina isn’t, either. There are significant hurdles everywhere he looks, and he doesn’t have money and organization to pull it out. I don’t know where it goes from here, but I feel absolutely certain he won’t be leaving the race any time soon,” Caufield said.
Jerry Fadgen of Plantation, Fla., has been in Iowa since Dec. 26 making calls for Gingrich. He is “optimistic but not surprised” about Gingrich’s fourth-place caucus results. Supporters continually pointed to negative campaigning causing Gingrich’s slow showing in Iowa.
“I’m feeling fine. The negative ads worked, but he’s still way ahead of where he was two or three months ago. He hit a bump in the road, but I expect he’ll come back up,” said Kevin McLaughlin, chairman of Polk County Republicans of Iowa.
McLaughlin, who caucused for Gingrich, said though the candidate has been attacked by opponents, he doesn’t see Gingrich going negative. “Newt is a uniter, and you could tell that when he was speaker of the House,” McLaughlin said.
Gingrich’s quick speech to the chanting, poster-waving crowd commended Rick Santorum for his positive campaign. Gingrich committed to staying positive but also emphasized he would be speaking the truth about his opponents.
Supporters echoed optimism about upcoming primaries, especially those in South Carolina and Florida. “It’s all about his future and not his past,” McLaughlin said.