With less than a week until the New Hampshire primary, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich spent a full day campaigning in the state’s lightly populated North Country. While there he opened his stump speech by jumping into a local controversy over a proposed $1.1 billion plan to build a giant transmission line from the Canadian border to southern New Hampshire.

The plan, known as the Northern Pass, would connect a Quebec electricity producer with the population centers of southern New England. The plan is controversial in northern New Hampshire, which is heavily reliant on tourism, because it involves the construction of 120-foot-high towers through pristine parts of the White Mountain National Forest and surrounding forests.

“As I understand it the president has the ability to sign or not sign the document that authorizes the transmission from Quebec of energy,” Gingrich told voters in the town of Lancaster.  “I would not sign an authorization that would allow large towers that would destroy the scenic beauty of northern New Hampshire.”

“I don’t think the people of the north country should be forced to suffer a loss of their income and their quality of life to deliver power to the south for Quebec power,” he added, earning a round of applause.

Gingrich had one additional sweetener for local voters. “We’re working on a proposal for veterans to develop a clinic in the north country that would allow tele-medicine to veterans in the north country,” he said.