A month before Delaware’s winner-take-all primary election, GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich made a stop in the First State, the first of the national candidates vying for the Republican nomination.
While in town, Gingrich held a private fundraiser in Wilmington and spoke with Delaware Republicans in Hockessin Monday night.
Despite two big losses in Illinois and Louisiana, a lackluster showing in past primaries and mounting pressure to withdraw from what many see as a two-man race, the former Speaker of the House has no intention of giving up, saying he’s going all the way to Tampa and the Republican National Convention.
“If we get to a point where nobody has a majority, then it’s going to be wild and interesting,” said Gingrich. “I think, at that point, my ability to debate Obama and the idea that I’m the one guy who could probably beat him in the debates, I think may come into play in a big way.”
Seventeen delelgates are up for grabs in Delaware’s primary. And while the First State has voted Democrat in the past four presidential elections, dating back to 1996, and with registered Democrats outnumbering registered Republicans in the state by more than 100,000, Gingrich believes Delawareans have plenty of reasons to vote differently this year.
“People who think the current unemployment rate isn’t good enough, people who don’t want to pay $5, $6, $7 a gallon for gasoline… people who are worried by the size of the deficit and believe it’s going to cheat their children and grandchildren of a decent future… I think there are a lot of folks, who for different reasons, may this year decide to take Delaware into the Republican column,” Gingrich said.
“Delawareans are an independent breed,” said John Sigler, chairman of Delaware’s GOP. “Party registration means absolutely nothing, or almost nothing, in the state of Delaware. Delawareans, as a general rule, will vote first of all their heart, and second of all, they’ll vote how they think the country should be going. And we know that we do have a registration deficit, if you will, but we have a President with a deficit record.”
Gingrich is no stranger to Delaware. His first visit was in 1961 when Gingrich visited his uncle who was stationed at Dover Air Force Base. “I have a long history — I’ve been here with Pete du Pont for many years, I was here with Mike Castle, came down here for Bill Roth on occasion, you know, I feel very comfortable in Delaware.”
Comfortable and familiar, Gingrich says, with the Delaware way of bipartisanship and working together, party affiliation notwithstanding.
“When I was Speaker of the House, I had to get Bill Clinton’s signature for anything to become law. So I had to work with a liberal Democrat in the White House. When I worked as a junior member with Ronald Reagan we had to get every third Democrat to vote with us in order to pass the Reagan tax plan. So if I become President, I will spend a good bit of time between the election and the inaugural to see every single Democrat one-on-one to just talk with them and try to establish some basis for getting things done.”
Delaware’s primary is April 24th; the last day to register to vote before the presidential primary election is this Saturday.