FIRST PERSON | LYNCHBURG, Va. -- In my opinion, Newt Gingrich possesses one of the most brilliant minds on the American scene today. Therefore, I didn't consider passing up an opportunity to see him in person.
The former Speaker of the House visited the Virginia Republican Headquarters in Lynchburg on Saturday. He was in town to address students at Liberty University and to speak to our local Republican campaign volunteers.
As a volunteer, I was excited to learn that Gingrich was planning a visit to the Lynchburg headquarters. And since his appearance was dedicated to the volunteers, I knew the crowds and lines might be more maneuverable than when a person of his stature addresses the general public.
I arrived at the Republican headquarters about 30 minutes prior to Gingrich's appointed time. A small crowd had already gathered and there was a positive hum to the room, as individuals sipped coffee, snacked on pastries, introduced themselves and mingled. It was a positive, pleasant place to be. People continued to arrive, and within a few minutes, the room was full.
I was struck by the number of young people (twenty-somethings) in the crowd and in charge. There was even a little girl of about 9 or 10 who very professionally handed out lapel stickers for George Allen and Bob Goodlatte, our candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively.
When the hum of the room suddenly amped up, all eyes moved to the door. Speaker Gingrich had arrived. He moved gracefully through the crowd, shaking hands along the way to the platform, from which he would address the group. He shook my hand and stood directly in front of me while he was being introduced. He spoke for about 10 minutes and following that, took questions from the audience of volunteers. His remarks were soft-spoken and, as is his trademark, logical and succinct. He commented that the Senate race was of major importance and that there was no scenario in which Romney could win the presidency without winning Virginia.
In response to a question regarding why Mr. Romney doesn't hammer more on the Benghazi issue, the Speaker responded, "Those who care already know, and those who don't know, don't care." I was struck by the simple truth of this statement.
When the Q&A session concluded, the Speaker said he would pose for photographs or sign books. When my turn came, I said I preferred to have a photo with him, even though I had two of his books in my hand. As he reached for the books, he said, "We can do both; that's not a problem. We have time."
Although I am very much concerned about our country and our government, I am not a political or celebrity "groupie." However, in the future, I would brave a long line and a long wait to hear this gracious, intelligent man speak. I know it would be worth it.
- Politics & Government
- Newt Gingrich