MERRIMACK, N.H. — Hours before the polls closed in New Hampshire tonight, Newt Gingrich predicted a third place finish in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary. In addition, the former House speaker made it clear to HUMAN EVENTS that he was looking forward to facing his Republican rivals in the next battle site in South Carolina Jan. 21.
“I think we’ll get third place,” Gingrich told us, as he greeted a raucous crowd of supporters, media and some protesters outside the polling place at Mastricola Elementary School here. During the past few days, he has benefited from a string of crowded events, including a much-publicized forum for veterans in Wolfeboro on the Monday before the balloting. Among those weighing in for him at the event were Robert “Bud” McFarlane, Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser, and former Sen. Bob Smith (R.-N.H.), himself a Vietnam veteran.
Gingrich did concede that Mitt Romney’s years of campaigning in the Granite State would probably net him first place in tonight’s primary. But he quickly added: “Remember how [the late Massachusetts Sen.] Paul Tsongas defeated Bill Clinton in the [Democratic] primary here [in 1992]?” He reminded us how Bill Clinton went on to defeat Tsongas in a string of subsequent primaries and go on to win the nomination and election as President.
The Georgian made little secret that he hopes the place in which he can begin a repeat of Clinton’s political road back is in South Carolina. He noted that his organization in the Palmetto State has begun to grow at a rapid pace and has picked up impressive supporters recently. When we cited the news that former Republican Rep. and U.S. Court of Claims Judge John Napier had signed on as his campaign co-chairman, Gingrich said that “John is helping us a lot. We’ll be strong in South Carolina.”