Bluffton, S.C. (CNSNews.com) – Newt Gingrich, poised for a potential comeback, told South Carolina voters he needed their support for two terms in the White House and referred to President Barack Obama as a “phony president” when poking fun at his Disney World visit.
The former speaker of the House had poor showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, but recent polls show Gingrich leading former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. He also received the endorsement of Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday, after Perry announced he was quitting the race.
A Rasmussen poll from Jan. 18 shows Gingrich leading Romney 33 percent to 31 percent, while an Insider Advantage poll shows Gingrich leading Romney 32 percent to 29 percent.
Gingrich has said if he won South Carolina, he could roll on to win the Republican nomination. But he has also insisted there might be no way to stop Romney from becoming the nominee if he wins the state’s primary on Saturday.
Speaking to a large gathering of seniors on Thursday, Gingrich referenced needing public support for serving eight years, or two full four-year terms, as president.
“No one person, not even the president, can fix the scale of trouble we’re in,” Gingrich told the audience. “So I’m here to ask you to be with me for the next eight years, to stand side by side with Callista and me to remind the Congress everyday where we’re trying to go and also the governor, the state legislature, the city council, the county commission and the school board. We all have to migrate in the same direction.”
It has been a tumultuous week leading up to the South Carolina primary – which has picked the winner of the party’s nomination since 1980. Notably, the race is now down to the final four candidates, Romney, Gingrich, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
On Monday, former Utah Gov. John Huntsman dropped out of the race and endorsed Romney. On Thursday, the Iowa Republican Party announced that it had certified that Santorum actually won the Iowa Caucus by 34 votes, after previously saying that Romney had won the state by eight votes. That same day Perry, once a frontrunner for the nomination, dropped out and endorsed Gingrich.
Gingrich also took a shot at Obama for holding a town hall meeting at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
Obama touted tourism at the visit, calling the theme park “the top tourist destination in the world” and saying “America is open for business.” The president further joked that he looked forward to meeting Mickey Mouse, “It’s always nice to meet a world leader who has bigger ears than me.”
Gingrich wondered why such a venue was selected.
“To close half of the Magic Kingdom for the purpose of a White House invitation town hall meeting on a phony Main Street, on behalf of a phony president, just strikes me as weird,” Gingrich said. “This is one of those things historians will write about in the future.
“So what I was going to say before you all rudely interrupted me with your laughter: I want you to think about the president standing with Mickey Mouse on one side and Goofy on the other. I’ll let you decide which cabinet office he’s likely to offer the two of them while he’s there,” he added.