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GOP primary: Gingrich scores points for debate skills
By Jackie R. Broach
It was an overflow crowd at Land’s End restaurant in Georgetown when former House Speaker Newt Gingrich brought his presidential campaign there on Sunday.
Just a day before the presidential debate in Myrtle Beach and less than a week away from the GOP presidential primary, he was the second candidate in as many days to make an appearance in the county and supporters turned out in droves.
Among the crowd was Howard Baker of Murrells Inlet, who said Gingrich will absolutely get his vote on Saturday.
“First, he’s probably the most intelligent person who is running,” Baker said. “Second, he has the experience of creating jobs. He is the only person who is running who has been a portion of [creating] a balanced budget. He is the only one who can say he is most responsible for that. He is also the person who pushed through welfare reform when he was in the House of Representatives.”
Jerry and Louise Dockham won’t be able to vote in the state’s primary. Though they have a house on Pawleys Island, they live in Denton, N.C., where Jerry is a member of the state House.
But they didn’t want to miss the opportunity to hear Gingrich in person.
“I just like his philosophy about things and I think he’s the best candidate and could be the best chance we have to beat Barack Obama,” Jerry said.
Judy added that she likes Gingrich’s record, but she’s also considering Mitt Romney. Her husband prefers Rick Santorum to Romney, but will “certainly support whoever the Republican nominee is.”
Heather Corneliusen of Murrells Inlet was already a Gingrich supporter, but she left Georgetown even more convinced he’s the best candidate.
“I was impressed today,” she said. “I love listening to him talk. I think he’s the only one that can [beat] Obama in a debate and that’s important.”
If chosen as the nominee, Gingrich promised the crowd, he will challenge the president to seven three-hour debates with a time keeper and moderator.
“I am going to concede that he can use a teleprompter if he wants to,” Gingrich said, drawing laughter and applause.
There are three practical reasons Gingrich would be the best nominee for the party, he said, and the first is “we need someone who can stand up to Barack Obama in the debates this fall.
“When they are going to raise a billion dollars to slander us and smear us, we had better have somebody good enough on that debate platform to wipe away all the mud and get across the truth.”