DES MOINES, Iowa— Newt Gingrich’s tour bus had to pull over Thursday night. The candidate was talking on his cell phone to a tele-town hall meeting with supporters to rebut the barrage of TV ads that have aired across the Hawkeye state for the past month.
But the more immediate problem for Gingrich was the lack of cell phone reception on an Iowa highway.
It’s an accidental metaphor for Gingrich’s entire experience as a presidential candidate. After a couple of months of leading the polls both nationally and in the Hawkeye state, the momentum of the campaign is rolling to a stop.
Gingrich is holding out hope that the negative campaigning won’t be rewarded in Iowa and his message will resonate Tuesday with undecided caucus goers.
“It’s obviously up the American people, but I think it’s very likely that in the end, you know, this is like the opening two minutes of a Super Bowl, we have a long game to play,” Gingrich told ABC’s Jonathan Karl on Friday.
The campaign has been a long odyssey for Gingrich, who survived a partial staff defection this summer only to surge back to the front of the pack.
Just 29 days ago, the polls both nationally and in Iowa reflected Gingrich’s confident and steady rise to the top of the pack, but after a brutal lashing across the Iowa airwaves of attack ads centered on Gingrich, his poll numbers have decreased drastically. Now Gingrich is hoping for a third or fourth place finish in the Iowa Caucus, but recent polls show Gingrich sitting as low as a fifth place finish. Gingrich says the votes could be closely clustered and only hundreds of votes apart, a fifth place finish won’t stop him.
One important change was evident on the campaign trail Friday. Shortly after talking to Karl, Gingrich took part in an town hall meeting for an Iowa Mothers’ Group, where a more personal side of the wonky and hardened politico was on display. He choked up while talking about his mother and her difficult descent into bipolar disease.http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2011/12/gingrich-chokes-up-in-iowa-talking-about-mother/
No matter what happens Jan. 3rd in Iowa, Gingrich predicted his campaign will carry through to New Hampshire and beyond.
“I mean first of all I’m going to survive period. You’re talking to somebody who in the national polls is tied for first or first. I think I’ll survive ok,” Gingrich told Karl.