Tales from the Trail

Washington Extra – Moonshot no more

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich bows his head in prayer before speaking at First Redeemer Church while on a campaign tour in Cumming, Georgia, February 26, 2012. REUTERS/Tami Chappell

Earth calling Newt: When the biggest news of your presidential campaign is the penguin biting your hand at the zoo, it’s probably time to pack it in.

Even though Newt Gingrich’s odds of winning the Republican nomination were about as long as those of realizing his dream for a moon colony, the 68-year-old seemed to enjoy himself to the end. “I never got the sense that he was quote-unquote down,” said adviser Charlie Gerow. “I got the sense on a couple of occasions that he was tired. Really tired.” And really in debt. His campaign spent $4.3 million more than it brought in.

For all his offbeat ideas, Gingrich did bring a dose of seriousness to this campaign. With some stellar debate performances and a deep knowledge of politics and history, he probably made Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum study more and work harder to win support.

Members of the media, targets of some of his most vicious attacks, may not miss Newt much. But there’s no denying that, for the world of news, Gingrich was the gift that kept on giving, right up to his encounter with a penguin.

Inside Secret Service ears when Reagan was shot

USA-POLITICS/OBAMAThirty years after the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, the U.S. Secret Service offers an unusual peek into history with the release of about 10 minutes of radio traffic between agents protecting the president and their command  center.

The never-before-heard recording shows that agents initially believed Reagan, referred to by his code-name “Rawhide”, was fine after being shot as he left the Washington Hilton Hotel following a speech on March 30, 1981.

“Rawhide is okay. Follow-up, Rawhide is okay,” said Special Agent in Charge Jerry Parr, after hustling Reagan into his limousine which quickly sped away from the hotel.