Newt Gingrich has dropped like a rock in Iowa polls, but with GOP
voters there so unsettled it's premature to count him out. Forty-
one percent of likely caucusgoers still might change their minds, a
recent poll finds.
There's a festive atmosphere at LJ's Neighborhood Bar and Grill
in Waterloo, Iowa, as Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista, wade
through the crowd to take their spot for brief remarks and
After all, it's the evening of New Year's Day, and the Jan. 3
caucuses are finally at hand. Mr. Gingrich, the former House
speaker, expresses surprise at the size of the crowd - maybe 200
people packed into the cozy sports bar in the hometown of another
GOP presidential competitor, Michele Bachmann.
"Our schedule said there would be 50 people here. You have really
disrupted the schedule," Gingrich deadpans.
But Gingrich may in fact have been a tad taken aback, given that
the pundits have given him up for politically dead. According to the
latest polls, he's now in fourth place, on the downside of a once-
surging campaign - from a commanding lead with 31 percent among
likely Iowa caucusgoers three weeks ago to under 14 percent. Mitt
Romney, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum have passed him by.
Still, Iowans - and a few out-of-towners visiting family for the
holidays - flock to see Gingrich. There are Democrats in the house,
out for an autograph and a look-see at a historical figure; a
college student home on break who plans to caucus with the
Republicans on Tuesday, but may still vote for President Obama in
November; caucusgoers who may vote for Gingrich or may not; and of
course lots of die-hard Gingrich fans sporting Newt stickers and
Don't count this guy out. Now that he's down on his luck, humbled
by his crash in the polls after being carpet-bombed by negative ads,
some folks here find him endearing. They appreciate the tears he
shed last week when asked about his mother, who had mental problems.
And over and over, they mention his time in Washington and ability
to get things done.
"I like his ideas, his thoughts, his experience, and dedication,"
says Donna Miller of Waterloo. "I saw Bachmann and Romney, too, and
"He's the man with the answers," says her husband, Ivan Miller.
Indeed, in his appearance here, Gingrich expounded on the space
program, global warming, guns, taxes, energy, and the United
"President Clinton and I negotiated endlessly on welfare reform,
balanced budget, and the tax cut," he said, referring to his four
years as House speaker in the 1990s. …