Mt. Pleasant, S.C. – It was a setting as American as apple pie: Newt Gingrich spoke abroad the World War II aircraft carrier the U.S.S. Yorktown, with a gigantic flag and a row of Boy Scouts behind him.
But when Gingrich was just a few minutes into his primary eve remarks, he was interrupted by a heckler shouting, asking Gingrich to release his ethic investigation reporter.
Gingrich calmly responded, saying that if the man had researched, “instead of shouting lies,” he would have discovered that the full report was online. “When you get done reading it, let me know if you have any other questions,” Gingrich said.
“And I assume you’re for the candidate who’s afraid to release his income tax,” he added.
The man then started shouting more insults at Gingrich, including “he cheats on his wife,” earning him a loud chorus of boos from the crowd. Gingrich shrugged the incident off, saying, “Look, some people just aren’t happy.”
The heckler, later spotted in the parking lot, denied to passer-bys that he supported Mitt Romney specifically, saying he supported any of the not-Gingrich candidates, including Rick Santorum and Ron Paul.
Meanwhile, despite the well-publicized Marianne Gingrich interview, plenty of women attended both the rally tonight and one held earlier this afternoon. Sandra Perry, from Orangeburg, S.C. said that the fact that Gingrich had been “straightforward” about his past failings made “a huge difference.”
“If he tried to hide it or cover it, I would feel badly,” Perry said. “It’s history. It’s not a good thing, but it’s in the past.”
Elise Isenberg, also from Orangeburg, was not sure if she would vote for Gingrich or Santorum tomorrow. “Well, I’m a conservative. And I like Rick Santorum’s marriage. He’s only been married once. Mr. Gingrich’s been married three times,” Isenberg said. But despite her reservations about Gingrich’s marital history, Isenberg was no fan of the Marianne Gingrich interview. “I think somebody probably paid her big money to get on TV to say that,” she said.
There’s little sign that the interview stalled Gingrich’s momentum. South Carolina house speaker Bobby Harell, who was originally backing Rick Perry but endorsed Gingrich yesterday, predicted a Gingrich primary win tomorrow.
“The feel campaigning, the energy in the crowds, people coming up and are telling him they’ve just decided in the last few days that he’s the guy they’re going to vote for tomorrow,” said Harell, who had campaigned with Gingrich today. “So much of that’s occurred today, and I think there’s a general ground swell.”