MANCHESTER, N.H. — Newt Gingrich held a post-debate town hall meeting in Manchester that had all the trappings of a candidate looking ahead to primaries in South Carolina, Nevada, and Florida as he watches his New Hampshire poll numbers sink.
The town hall, held at Don Quijote’s, a restaurant just off I-295, began with Gingrich’s daughter Cathy. She introduced her father in Spanish and said that as a resident of Miami, the Latino community was especially important to her and her father.
Gingrich has been attacked by fellow GOP candidates for his proposed immigration policy that would provide a path to residency illegal immigrants who’ve been living in the U.S. for 20 years or more. Gingrich elaborated on the policy today, proposing a “local citizens certification board” that would have the power to grant residency to undocumented immigrants who satisfied certain criteria. Gingrich did not specify the criteria, but did say the boards would not be able to confer citizenship on immigrants. “The American people are not heartless,” Gingrich said. “We want to end people being forced to live in the shadows.”
Occupy protesters gathered outside the restaurant as Gingrich spoke. Several protesters attended the town hall and interrupted Gingrich as he took questions about the influence of money in politics.
“The practical reality is that people who want to influence politics with money can,” Gingrich said. “I would like to see a simple change in election law where anyone could give as much money to any candidate as they wanted, as long as it is reported on the Internet that day.”
Newt went on to say that such a policy would help “normal people get elected, not just millionaires.”
Gingrich did not comment on the legalization of super PACs, organizations unaffiliated with candidates that can spend unlimited sums on election advertising. Gingrich has been a vocal supporter of the Supreme Court decision that authorized such spending.