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Gingrich may soon open IC office

BY MARY KATE KNORR | OCTOBER 25, 2011 7:20 AM

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DAVENPORT — Iowa caucus candidate Newt Gingrich may soon open a campaign office in Iowa City, he told The Daily Iowan at a town-hall meeting Monday, and campus Republicans say that's a good move.

"I think Iowa City is the smartest choice," said Natalie Ginty, the chairwoman of the Iowa Federation of College Republicans, who met with Gingrich staffers recently.

Campaign officials said Iowa City was an attractive location because even though Johnson County is overwhelmingly Democratic, the size of the county means there are many Republicans here.

"We just started thinking about [an eastern Iowa office] over the weekend," said Michael Krull, Gingrich's campaign coordinator. "Some of the [University of Iowa] College Republicans suggested it would be a great thing to have it in Iowa City, so we're definitely considering putting it there."

 

Johnson County has 18,428 registered Republicans, according to the Johnson County auditor's website. The county has the sixth largest concentration of registered Republicans in the state, according to the Iowa secretary of State's website.

Krull said he sat down with several Iowa Republican supporters over the weekend to discuss the best location for a second Iowa office. The campaign will soon open its first Iowa office in Des Moines, he said.

"I think, on the whole, it's a good thing," said Tim Hagle, a UI associate professor of political science. "Just to the extent that he is willing to open up an office in the state, that is a good sign."

This move, Hagle said, is a sign that Gingrich is returning to a more traditional campaign strategy.

Johnson County Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Keettel said putting an office in Iowa City would be an excellent geographical choice.

"Johnson County has outstanding access to interstate highways," Keettel said. "No other town has as good a road network as we do. That might be a very good reason to locate here."

In June, numerous members of Gingrich's staff abandoned his campaign, which forced the former speaker of the House to take a nontraditional approach focusing less on staff and volunteers.

"That's really not going to be how you're going to win caucuses," Hagle said.

Hagle said reaching out to voters and volunteers is what will help candidates win in the upcoming caucus.

"People are still looking to key in on who it is they really want to support in the caucuses," Hagle said. "People are taking a second look at him."

John Twillman, the president of the UI College Republicans, said students will likely be receptive to Gingrich's campaign.

"He could get a lot of students that are really behind him in more ways than just voting," Twillman said. "It will be nothing but positive for his campaign."


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