I grumbled, loudly and within the hearing range of a Newt Gingrich staffer, when those of us on The Gazette Editorial Board who were at work on Monday, Jan. 2, were told more than once that Gingrich was running late for his scheduled 2 p.m., Iowa time, session with us. Time is precious on a day like this and pecking away at work that needs to be done while waiting almost an hour is not productive -- kind words for wasting time.
Gingrich finally arrived almost an hour late, pumped by the campaign appearance he just had been at, and he gave the board full attention with sharp and informed answers. For all the wait, it turned out to be a good session.
Of interest, less than 24 hours before the Jan. 3 Republican caucuses, was Gingrich's effort to define the other candidates seeking the same presidential nomination he seeks.
Ron Paul? Not a serious candidate, Gingrich said. "So I don't think about Ron Paul."
Rick Santorum? "It's good to be the guy who wasn't attacked," Gingrich said about the fellow Republican who surged past him in the last opinion polls taken before Tuesday night while Gingrich was the subject of attack ads. "I don't begrudge anything that happens to him. He's a good guy."
Mitt Romney? Ah, the tension spot, thanks to ads the super PAC called Restore Our Future has been running in Iowa that take full measure against Gingrich. "Mitt Romney is a serious person. And as a serious person, he has some responsibility to set a decent standard. And he couldn’t show these ads he’s running to his grandchildren with any sense of pride.”
Romney has responded to Gingrich's concerns, and his reliance on Restore Our Future. But Gingrich made no effort to hide his contempt for the ads. Are Romney and Restore Our Future campaigning fairly with the ads? I asked Gingrich. The answer was quick: No.
The other Republicans have been busy on the campaign trail in Iowa, too. The high stakes game comes to a head in Iowa Tuesday night and then moves to New Hampshire so the candidates are working the Hawkeye state hard.
For some Iowans, the shift to New Hampshire cannot come too soon.
I took a call Monday from someone who asked The Gazette to publish all of the numbers of telemarketers who have been interrupting Iowans at home or by cell with telephone calls during the Christmas holiday season, asking for support for this or that candidate, or to take a poll, or to push a town hall meeting. I told the man my phones rang off the hook last week, all from politicians. I'd get a call on my land line, then a few minutes later on my cell phone.
You guys sure get a lot of telemarketing calls, my son-in-law who lives in Minnesota observed while at the house for our family Christmas. Yeah, that's Iowa in the caucus season, I reminded the former Iowan.
I told the man who called The Gazette on Monday we cannot get all of those numbers in such a short period of time but to hang on one more day. A few previous minutes exist for candidates to define themselves, and also their opponents in Iowa. Then, finally, people can make their choices and head home, where the phones ought to stop ringing for awhile.
[UPDATED ON 1/26/12] A reader suggests using this site http://www.callercenter.com for finding numbers from which telemarketers call. The numbers are reported by people who get calls.