Newt goes back to school
Newt Gingrich may not have thrilled a crowd of Iowa school kids with all of his answers on Tuesday, but he cannot be accused of pandering to them.
Gingrich didn’t score points with the 200 or so middle and high schoolers in Osage, Iowa, with his answer to the U.S. falling behind in the brain race with China.
“You’ve got to study more,” he told the kids, who stared back. “Scores in the end aren’t the teacher’s problem; they are the student’s problem.”
The kids were quiet and attentive for the 45 minutes the former US House Speaker spent with them in the gym at Osage Middle School, but their reactions afterward were decidedly mixed.
Some were thrilled with Gingrich’s visit, including Alexandra Burns, 14, the daughter of a local Republican legislator who invited Gingrich after meeting him with her father.
“How cool was that?” she shouted after Gingrich left.
But Gingrich left others cold, including a small group of older boys who said they thought he had ducked too many questions. “He’s just trying to please everybody,” said senior Joe Cockrum, who showed political acumen by adding, “Although if you’re running for president, I would too.”
Cockrum said he’d back former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney among the Republican presidential hopefuls, saying he seemed the least extreme. “I’m not really into those candidates who like to please the Republican Party,” he said.
But if the election were held today, between Romney and Barack Obama? Cockrum, who describes himself as a political independent, had some good news for the Democratic president.
“I’d vote for Barack Obama,” he said. “I think he’s really doing his best bringing America back, economy-wise and education-wise.”
Cockrum is 18 and said he will “definitely” vote in November.