Campaigns often describe the eve of primary day as a mad dash to the finish line. For Newt Gingrich, Friday was more of a casual stroll.

Newt Gingrich skipped his first campaign stop Friday, with his campaign citing low attendance at the early morning Southern Republican Leadership Conference meeting.

The former House Speaker, who has muscled his way to the top of the South Carolina polls, has found enthusiastic supporters throughout the state's lowcountry.

Gingrich did make a scheduled appearance later Friday morning at the Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital. Gingrich and his wife Callista toured the complex; the former Speaker discussed recent developments in neurological medicine — a passion of his — with doctors on the staff.

After the tour, Callista read her children’s book, Sweet Land of Liberty to a handful of patients and a swarm of reporters. Gingrich made no formal remarks, only telling reporters that he thought his performance at Thursday’s debate was OK.

Gingrich earned a standing ovation — and much praise from conservative commentators — for his strong criticism of CNN moderator John King, who opened the debate by asking the former Speaker to respond to charges from his second ex-wife, Marianne, that he had requested an open marriage.

Gingrich’s campaign also rescheduled a planned tele-town hall with supporters, pushing the event to Saturday morning.

Gingrich’s next event is a planned town hall and news conference Friday afternoon in Orangeburg, with a book signing scheduled Friday evening aboard the USS Yorktown in Charleston.