Newt Gingrich is at the top of several polls now that almost every other anti-Mitt Romney candidate has flamed out, but is there anyone out there for whom Gingrich is the No. 1 choice? Just as when we hunted for the elusive enthusiastic supporter of moderate Mitt Romney -- which we defined as a non-staffer looking happy while wearing a Romney T-shirt -- the search for the die-hard Gingrich fan has been difficult. Gingrich's strategy of going light on Iowa trips and heavy on television interviews means that unlike most of his rivals, the vast majority of wire photos of Gingrich are from debates, with only a small fraction from campaign stops. That means fewer changes to spot a Gingrich fan in the wild. But even at those events, we couldn't find a photo of someone wearing a Newt 2012 shirt. It can't possibly be that political junkies follow the same rule as music nerds -- that wearing a band's T-shirt to its show is an embarrassing faux pas. So we dug a little deeper in the infinite campaign trail of the Internet.
And that's where we found Josh Gosser (pictured above). Gosser created two websites supporting Gingrich: Newt50States.com
. He also made the Draft Newt Gingrich for President 2012
Facebook page. The 24-year-old Topeka native has hoped Gingrich would run for the White House since 2006, when he picked up a copy of the former House speaker's book, Winning the Future
. ("I thought it was pretty funny to hear Obama using that" phrase, Gosser says. "But Hillary Clinton sort of did the same thing last election. She was using the term Solutions for America, I think. Newt, of course, had started American Solutions.") Gosser doesn't remember that much of Gingrich's speakership in the 1990s, which lots of people are reliving
now that he's polling well. Gosser plans to be back in Iowa to knock on doors for Gingrich before the caucuses in January. But one thing Gosser doesn't have? A photo of himself smiling in a Newt 2012 shirt.
Aside from the heroic efforts of Gosser, the Internet campaign trail is even bleaker for Gingrich than it is for Romney.
At least Romney's own campaign could get people to pose
in Romney T-shirts. But on Facebook, Georgians for Gingrich
, South Carolinians for Gingrich
and New Hampshire for Gingrich
, and Newt Gingrich's campaign page
feature zero Newt 2012 T-shirt wearers. (His campaign did, however, post a photo
of the candidate with someone wearing a Herman Cain shirt, seen at right.) As for other fan sites aside from Gosser's, there's NewtGingrich360.com
, where user Daniel Bruski
has an arty icon reminiscent of the ubiquitous red-and-white "Hope" poster of Obama. But Bruski hasn't posted in more than a month and his candidate is peaking now
. There are 818 members, the site says, though only 29 are "featured members," and, of course, Gosser is one of them
is written by "Strong Conservative
," who links to the wrong Newt for President
Facebook page (just 208 likes). No photos of overwhelming Newt-love to be seen at any of those sites.
Even pro-Gingrich tweets often display a lack of excitement, like this one
from a suburban Atlanta man: "Caught @newtgingrich on Fox News this morning. Excellent response to the impending media's rehash of his failed marriages." It wasn't always like this. Gingrich wallowed in adoring crowds in the 1990s, like this one from Reuters taken in October 1998. If you have any photos of rabid Gingrich fans from this decade, please send them our way.
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
ereeve at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.