Iowa has been nearing record-high temperatures recently, but not today. It’s very cold and windy. Gary Tuchman and I felt it most while waiting for Newt Gingrich to get off his bus. We were shooting footage for tonight's behind-the-scenes look at his campaign in Iowa. Today's first stop is Independence, Iowa to talk to supporters and the press.
The mood inside was warm and cordial. Gingrich mentioned several times how he won't go negative against his opponents. In fact, his biggest applause at this event came regarding negative ads: "People running negative ads should try to adopt a very simple rule," he said. "If you won't show your ad to your grandchildren, don't run it. If you are not proud of it, don't run it. And I think you would see about 80 percent of the negativity come off of TV." Gingrich noted his young grandson and his buddy were in attendance.
The unique story we’re preparing for AC360 includes moments you don't always see on TV: Gingrich with his wife and family, conversations with potential supporters, what Iowans are asking him and what they are applauding. "Rebuilding the America We Love" is the slogan on the side of his campaign bus and one of the points that has been getting most support from crowds is about America's place in the world. "I think it should be our policy to become so energy independent that no American president ever again bows to or walks arm-in-arm with a Saudi king."
We saw Newt Gingrich tour the Heartland Acres Agribition Center that hosts many tractors including Big Bud, the biggest one in the world, before setting out for Walford, Iowa where a surprise guest was waiting.
Here his bus actually drove *into* the venue at the Schrader Excavating and Grading company for a town hall. As he stepped off the bus, Survivor's "Eye Of The Tiger" played. It was apropos as the candidate said today that he wins in Iowa no matter what the results on Tuesday – because he's "still standing."
During the stop, 9-year-old Luther asked Gingrich what he wants kids in America to know? "That they're growing up in the most extraordinary country," he said, "and that they should learn about American history...they should study and learn a lot so they can be very good citizens."
Then the surprise guest was welcomed. Newt Gingrich wrapped up the event by reminding us of the children's book his wife wrote called “Sweet Land of Liberty” about U.S. history. Ellis the Elephant takes kids on a tour of historical locations. "We actually have Ellis the Elephant here with us this afternoon," Gingrich announced. "It is his only visit to Iowa this trip."
Ellis got the crowd going, sold some books and then Gary and I were off to Des Moines.
Watch Gary’s report tonight on AC360 at 8 and 10 p.m. ET.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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