DECORAH, IA -- Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich made three appearances in Northeast Iowa on Saturday -- a pancake breakfast, a parade, and a county fair -- two of them tied to this town's 45th Nordic Fest.
The festival celebrates the area's Norwegian heritage, and it has been taking place there since 1967. Gingrich began his day eating pancakes and sausage at the Decorah Fire Department. He made his way around to every table in the two-room truck hall, shaking hands and asking for support in next year's caucuses.
The former House speaker then made his way to the Annual Nordic Fest Grand Parade a couple blocks from the local fire station. Gingrich and his wife Callista (who is in town to play the French horn in her Luther College band reunion Sunday) rode on a float with hay pulled by a big red tractor. The banners on the sides read, "The Winneshiek Country GOP welcomes Newt Gingrich." Amid other floats with Vikings, Wizard of Oz dancers, and clowns, the Gingriches threw candy and waved along the parade route.
After the parade ended, Gingrich commented on the ongoing debt crisis. He called President Obama "really irresponsible" and said he felt House Speaker Boehner's efforts are "steps in the right direction."
The last event on Gingrich's public schedule yesterday included a stop at the Mitchell County Fair in Osage, IA where he again greeted Iowans asking for their support in the caucuses. "I will be the only Newt Gingrich on the ballot," he said. Gingrich was escorted around the fair by State Rep. Josh Byrnes, who introduced the presidential hopeful to many locals, including small business owner Wally Rowcliffe.
Rowcliffe is undecided whom to support in the upcoming caucuses, but he noted, "Today would make a big difference, that he [Gingrich] had enough time to come and talk to us here in small town USA."
The Gingrich campaign said the candidate will be back in the Hawkeye State later this week.