Newt’s Iowa Turnout: Better Than Anticipated?

By MichaelJames

May 20, 2011 7:20pm

ABC News’ Arlette Saenz reports:

Although he has been battered by major Republican figures this week for his Medicare snafu, the Gingrich campaign says it has received an unexpected welcome during his 17-city tour in Iowa, with larger numbers turning out to his events than his campaign anticipated.

Organizers in Iowa told the Gingrich camp to expect their early campaign events in the Hawkeye State to number in the dozens, but all of the events thus far have seen greater numbers than expected, with the team having to change venues in three of the cities to accommodate all of the attendees.

“I’ve been told to expect that at most of these stops we would get anywhere from a dozen to a few dozen people campaigning early in Iowa, which would be typical for a candidate,” Rick Tyler, a spokesman for Gingrich, told ABC News in an email.  “That has not been the case for Newt.  People are turning out in big numbers.”

In Des Moines on Monday, Gingrich saw a crowd of 200 people.  The campaign had to expand a room at the public library in Marshalltown Thursday to avoid turning away interested voters when 178 Iowans showed up, and in both Mason City and Ames, 160 people gathered to hear what Gingrich had to say.  Even small-town Onawa brought out 68 people on Friday.

But are people more intrigued by the bad press surrounding Gingrich’s launch week than by his actual ideas and presidential ambition? Tyler said that’s not the case. 

“If anything, the turnouts would have been bigger if the media coverage was positive and not negative,” he said.

Gingrich’s week in Iowa started out a bit rocky when an Iowa voter told him to get out of the campaign before “you make a fool out of yourself.”

He will hit the Sunday show circuit again by appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation” this weekend and will head to New Hampshire later next week.

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