Newt Gingrich’s Myrtle Beach Rally (9 Pics)

Newt Gingrich’s Myrtle Beach Rally (9 Pics)

Newt Gingrich rolled into Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on Saturday for an event at the Chesterfield Inn, the oldest hotel on the strip.

It was an absolutely gorgeous location for an event.

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Newt’s speech and the BBQ beforehand was supposed to draw 300-400 people, which is about the size of a local Tea Party. I’d estimate the crowd was in about that range.

Before Newt got there, the organizers had some local Tea Partiers and politicians giving warm-up speeches. They were desperate for someone to fill up a little more time and while I was walking to the bathroom, one of the Tea Party leaders who knew me asked me to go up on stage and talk for 5 minutes.

So, I walked up in front of 300 people, with about 60 seconds of prep, and just riffed off the top of my head about Newt Gingrich. That was the first time I’d ever done that and actually, it went really well. Thank you hundreds of hours of radio time!

After a few minutes, they let me know Newt was in the house. So, I took a couple of snaps of him before he spoke.

Newt then launched into his speech. He doesn’t have the raw charisma of Bachmann or Cain when they’re on top of their games, but he still comes across very well. Furthermore, Newt just oozes knowledge and substance. This is a man who gives you the impression that he really knows what he’s talking about.

There was one slightly surreal moment during the speech. In the area we’re in, tourists can just walk past the event. At one point, I was standing there talking to the woman who owns the hotel while we watched Newt talk and a guy in a chicken costume ran by, at full speed, yelling incoherently. He didn’t stop, which was probably wise for two reasons. First off, I later heard a guy saying that he really wanted to body-check the guy in the chicken suit down to the ground, but he didn’t do it because he thought it would create a bad newspaper headline for the event. Moreover, right after the chicken guy ran through, a cop on a bike came through and the owner, who’s a local heavy, sent him after the guy in the suit.

Anyway, Newt finished up a strong speech, took some questions from the audience, and then headed into the crowd to shake hands. Here are some shots of the crowd, the view from above Newt, and the amazing view Newt was looking at when he gave his speech.

Of course, since I was there, I had to get a shot with Newt, too. In case you were wondering, even though I’ve interviewed him before, Newt didn’t seem to have the slightest idea who I was.

All in all, this was a good event for Newt. He drew a pretty good crowd, he came across well, and most importantly, he was presidential.

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