As Newt Gingrich began speaking at a press conference in Des Moines to announce two campaign endorsements, protesters interrupted the Republican presidential candidate.
DES MOINES, Iowa –- Newt Gingrich today picked up two endorsements from top early state officials, but those endorsements were overshadowed as protesters interrupted the press conference inside the Iowa State Capitol.
“Mic check” a protester yelled after the Iowa and New Hampshire House speakers made their endorsements known, and as Gingrich moved to the podium. Protesters chanted: “Put people first. Put people first.” Gingrich security quickly forced them from the room.
“My experience campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire is you just saw the one-tenth of 1%,” Gingrich said as the protesters were being escorted from the room. “I was at University of Iowa the other day and that same one-tenth of 1%, all noise, no thought tried to drawn out conversations.”
Exactly a week ago while he was in Iowa City giving a speech on brain science, about a dozen or so protesters interrupted Gingrich with another “mic check.”
In the middle of Gingrich's speech here in Des Moines today, another protester -- Ross Grooters -- began heckling the presidential candidate again.
“Mr. Gingrich you really do need to put the people first,” Grooters said as he was escorted out –- but not before Gingrich said he would be happy to have a conversation after the press conference.
In the hallway afterward, Grooters asked Gingrich why he wasn’t following Franklin Roosevelt's roadmap to get out of the Great Depression. “Because he didn't end the Depression, World War II did. That’s why,” Gingrich responded.
“That's a horrible answer, sir, and you know it,” Grooters proclaimed and continued to follow Gingrich outside the state house.
As Gingrich hopped in his SUV to head to New Hampshire, protesters yelled, “See you in New Hampshire, Newt;“ and “We will be everywhere you go.”
“Good,” Gingrich responded as the car door closed.
The real reason Gingrich was in Des Moines today was to receive the official endorsements of Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen and New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O’Brien (who flew to Iowa to endorse together with Paulsen).
“Only one candidate has achieved meaningful change in Washington, and that candidate is Newt Gingrich,” Paulsen said to more than two dozen gathered reporters.
In his opening statement, O’Brien said, "We cannot afford candidates who put electoral convenience or extreme ideology ahead of bringing transformative change."
During a press conference afterward, a reporter asked the New Hampshire speaker to whom he was referring, and O'Brien hit Mitt Romney.
"Gov. Romney, I’m not sure who he is," he answered. "I do know in New Hampshire, he hasn’t reached out to me. He hasn’t accepted multiple invitations to speak to the New Hampshire House of Representatives. I think those are indications, along with a lack of support of our state during Nevada’s attempt to move its caucuses forward, that he’s taken New Hampshire for granted. That’s our concern. I think it’s just a convenience with him, and to some extent he takes convenient positions."