SC at the RNC, Thursday

August 31, 2012 

  • COVERING THE GOP CONVENTION FOR YOU Gina SmithThe State newspaper’s Gina Smith is in Tampa this week, covering the GOP convention from a South Carolina point of view. Return to our campaign homepage to read Smith’s articles and updates throughout the day.

Gingrich: ‘One of the thrills of my life’

At Thursday’s breakfast, S.C. delegates to the Republican National Convention had their pictures taken with and listened to short remarks from former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who won South Carolina’s GOP presidential primary in January.

“You all gave me one of the great thrills of my career,” said Gingrich, a former West Georgia College history professor who is hosting a series of seminars around the Tampa Bay area this week. (The seminars, called Newt University, focus on “big” policy issues, including health care and energy.)

Gingrich encouraged the S.C. delegates to speak truth to Democrats leading up to November.

“This is an election we can win by a large margin if we have the courage to get in their face, to stay in their face,” said Gingrich, adding he may be more aggressive than most politicians.

But people in South Carolina understand aggressiveness, Gingrich added. “I can’t claim I’m that much more aggressive than Jim DeMint,” he said, referring to South Carolina’s firebrand U.S. senator, known Sen. Tea Party.

Breakfast draws one S.C. governor

Gov. Nikki Haley missed the S.C. delegation breakfast to spend time with husband Michael, who is scheduled to return to training soon before his January deployment to Afghanistan. The first gentleman is a first lieutenant in the S.C. National Guard.

However, former Gov. Mark Sanford was at the gathering and in full force, shaking hands, enjoying breakfast and posing for photographs.

Christie: ‘Our ideas are right for America’

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gave a speech that was half-politics, half-family humor to the S.C. delegates Thursday.

Christie – who delivered the convention’s keynote address Tuesday, to mixed reviews – told the S.C. delegates that it would not be enough to convince independents and “wayward Republicans” that a second term by President Barack Obama, a Democrat, is a bad idea.

“It is not good enough just to criticize Barack Obama although he deserves every ounce of it,” Christie said. “We must make the case for Republican governance. ... Our ideas are right for America and their ideas have failed America. Let’s just say it straight.”

Christie, widely considered a candidate for the GOP vice presidential nod before Republican nominee Mitt Romney picked U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for the job, received the biggest applause for his story about Romney and his wife Ann coming to his New Jersey home to lobby him to endorse the former Massachusetts governor’s presidential bid.

Christie told of his son, on roller blades, nearly smacking into Romney, and his daughter performing cartwheels and splits to get Romney’s attention – antics that, Christie said, Romney enjoyed and used to engage the children in discussion.

Christie said the interaction is proof Romney has a big heart, adding he hoped the GOP nominee showed that same heart during his acceptance speech later Thursday.

“If he does, (this election) is over,” Christie said.

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