MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) told supporters gathered to see his new state headquarters that the nation is “in for a great shock” when former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney does not win the GOP presidential nomination.
“We’re going to need your help in a very real way,” Gingrich said Friday in the packed room, surrounded by balloons and fans chanting, “Newt! Newt! Newt!”
Calling Romney a “smart person,” Gingrich said voters are faced not with a “traditional right-left choice, but an attitude choice.”
The former Speaker said Romney would be “a pretty good manager” but argued he’s better equipped for the presidency than Romney. Gingrich said he believes the next president must be able “to profoundly change Washington.”
Gingrich said that his campaign must “have the courage to knock on every door” and that he thinks he can win over Democrats and independents in a general election.
Gingrich said if he is the nominee, he would challenge President Barack Obama to seven three-hour Lincoln-Douglas-style debates.
When a fan asked whom he would appoint to key positions if elected, Gingrich beamed and referenced his near-broke campaign’s implosion over the summer.
“I’ve gone from being dead in June to somebody asking who would be in my Cabinet in November. I believe that’s progress,” Gingrich said, drawing laughs from the audience.
Fellow 2012 hopeful Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) offered a similar gripe, telling fans Friday night at a standing-room-only town hall event at a bar in Rochester, N.H., that he has been ignored by the press.
“Thank goodness for the Internet,” he said. “I think people are starting to figure this out.”
One supporter asked why he isn’t deemed a frontrunner given his strong standing in some polls and frequent straw poll wins.
“It annoys me plenty,” Paul said, noting that reporters ignored a recent event in Minnesota that drew 3,000 Paul fans. But he pivoted to say he thinks he can win the “Live Free or Die” state: “We’re in a very good position.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.