This is the second in a series of dispatches from the last days of the Newt Gingrich campaign. Part one can be found here.
After my initial foray into the dark world that was the Gingrich campaign I needed some time to think about what I had been witness to, so I beat a hasty retreat to my hotel room. That night, most of which I spent curled up in the fetal position, a bottle of Jack Daniels cradled in my arms, was one of reflection. Deep and abiding Fear penetrated my every thought. What had I gotten myself into? Where would this odyssey take me? So far I had encountered only madness. Was that all I was to find, or would there be some profound truth lying at the end of the road? Part of me didn’t want to find out those answers. Several times throughout the night I was tempted to get back in my car and return from whence I came. But in the end, my journalistic resolve took over and I decided to continue in my quest. After a fitful night of sleep, one that saw my unconscious mind pulled into any number of bizarre nightmares, I awoke somewhat refreshed, ready to take on whatever indignities the campaign had to throw at me.
Newt Fun Fact #2: Newt’s bologna has a first name. And a last name. It’s Melvin Vanderslice. Newt has a very close relationship with his bologna.
When I returned to Gingrich headquarters the next day, there was a tangible pall cast over the entire place. His secret service detail, which was running taxpayers $40,000 a day, had apparently decided they were more useful guarding the low rent strip club down the street, making access a bit easier than it was my first visit. The dozen or so staffers who still remained with the campaign sat at their desks, their faces blank and their mouths agape, having just heard the news that the campaign’s $500 check to cover the registration costs for Utah’s Republican primary had bounced. Even the most delusional among Newt’s cadre knew this development probably signaled the end of their run. It was so bad that the ever cheerful Tammy was huddled in a corner, dry sobbing. Although, that might have just been the meth.
Even worse, Sheldon Adelson, billionaire casino magnate, Israel’s answer to Rupert Murdoch, and Newt’s personal bankroll, who had donated more than ten million dollars of his fortune to the cause, was set to arrive that day to check up on his investment, and the mere mention of his name caused people to reel in disgust. Don’t get me wrong, you could tell everyone there was grateful for his largesse, but his physical appearance, which can only be described as akin to that of an evil troll from some long forgotten fairy tale, was enough to stir up hyper paranoia in even the most stoic of men. Some people were even blaming Tammy for his coming, claiming she had spoken his name thrice into the office’s scum-stained bathroom mirror.
To prepare for his impending arrival, workers had been in that morning to install a roulette table in one corner of the office, and now a small group of hardcore degenerate gamblers, along with a few of the more hardy campaign volunteers, were firmly ensconced around it, yelling out combinations of numbers in between issuing physical threats to the croupier. It appeared Adelson had soured on his investment and was now angling to recoup some of his losses in the only manner an inveterate swindler like him knew how.
Newt Fun Fact #3: A stickler for personal appearance, Newt has his jowls pumiced twice a week.
While I was hanging around, after I lost my advance money at the roulette table, I met a young man named Jerry. At 15-years-old, Jerry had joined the campaign through Gingrich’s internship program. Unable to gain traction with his plan to hire and train high school students to be janitors at their schools, Newt nonetheless felt so strongly about the idea that he started a pilot program within his own organization (The real impetus may have come from a dispute the campaign was embroiled in with the cleaning company they hired. One night, as Newt was practicing a speech on illegal immigration that was filled with some especially acidic vitriol, a couple of Mexican women on the cleaning crew overheard his xenophobic rantings and refused to work there again).
So it fell to Jerry, and a couple of other members of the Young Republicans club at his area high school, who were brought into the fold ostensibly as youth outreach coordinators, but soon found themselves working nights mopping Newt’s spittle off the floors and scouring pots clean in the kitchenette. I was surprised that Jerry had stuck around this long considering his friends had quit after a couple of days. When I asked him about this he looked back at me, a glazed over expression in his eyes, and repeated, like a mantra, “Because he’s the only true conservative running for President.” When I asked him to explain what he meant by that, Jerry answered with that same refrain over and over again. I found out later that one of the other Young Republicans had slipped some acid into the Jerry’s orange juice their first night working janitorial duties, resulting in Jerry suffering a complete break from reality.
Newt Fun Fact #4: Newt’s $500,000 line of credit at Tiffany’s may seem ostentatious at first, but when you lay eyes on the sweet, diamond-encrusted mouth grill he purchased there I think you’ll agree it was worth every penny.
To be continued…