Newt Gingrich came to New Hampshire to see a moose, but he got hooked first by a fly fisherman.
Before he met President Clinton in Claremont Sunday afternoon, Gingrich cruised the drizzly dawn for moose along the Androscoggin River here in northwestern New Hampshire. All was quiet, except for the 60-person entourage of press and staff members in a dozen vans, cars and a bus.
With such a brigade in tow, the speaker was having trouble scoring.
Then Gingrich spotted a more captive prey - two fishermen planted waist-deep midstream in the river. He halted the caravan, jumped from his car and stood on the river bank to hail the anglers.
“Hey Newt!” greeted one.
But the other, 48-year-old Tim Kipp, with a full white beard, a camouflage shirt and a hat, announced that, like the speaker, he was a history teacher for 22 years in Brattleboro, Vt. Then he yelled from the safety of his watery perch: “Your politics are some of the meanest politics I’ve ever heard. You make Calvin Coolidge look like a liberal!”
The speaker, temporarily stunned into unaccustomed silence, finally said, “Good line.”
Kipp resumed: “You’re going to destroy our country,” he said as Gingrich walked away.
This did not stop Kipp. “This guy is the most mean-spirited, vicious politician we’ve seen in a long time,” he continued, only half his body showing above the river. “The water we’re fishing in will be destroyed by his politics.”
A few minutes later, Gingrich told reporters he had stopped to talk to the fishermen because “I wanted you guys to get the photo opp.” He added, “This guy for the rest of his life can go back and say, ‘I stood up for what I believe in.’ That’s fine. That’s what America is all about.”