Gingrich strolls to primary day

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.

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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.