The latest GOP presidential candidate to book an event in Spokane arguably has had the most impact on local and state politics: Newt Gingrich.
The former Georgia congressman has a rally at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Bing Crosby Theater in downtown Spokane. It’s open to the public with no entry fee, a campaign spokesman said.
Gingrich then heads for Harrison, Idaho, where he has a fundraiser in a private home, then to Coeur d’Alene for a town hall meeting at 7:30 p.m. at the Coeur d’Alene Inn.
Thursday will be his first presidential campaign stop in the Inland Northwest, but Gingrich had a huge impact on Spokane and Washington politics 18 years ago without setting foot in the region.
In 1994, the Republican Revolution and the “Contract with America” pushed by Gingrich created a tidal wave that swamped 30-year veteran Rep. Tom Foley, then the House speaker, replacing him with Republican George Nethercutt.
Overall, Washington’s congressional delegation that year went from eight Democrats and one Republican to seven Republicans and two Democrats. Republicans gained control of the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years, and Gingrich replaced the ousted Foley as speaker of the House.
Gingrich will become the third Republican presidential candidate to visit the Inland Northwest in the last 10 days. Former Sen. Rick Santorum was in North Idaho on Feb. 14, and Rep. Ron Paul was in Spokane Friday.
The fourth Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, has not yet scheduled any Eastern Washington events, but his campaign hit the ground in Spokane on Tuesday with an appearance by his son.
Josh Romney spoke to about 75 people at CenterPlace in Spokane Valley on Tuesday about his dad’s bid for the nomination.
Josh Romney, 36, is the third of Mitt Romney’s five sons. He’s a real estate investor who lives in Salt Lake City.
He said his dad will campaign on March 1 in Bellevue and a location that hasn’t been finalized in Eastern Washington. He downplayed the recent surge in polls experienced by Santorum.
“We feel really good about how things are going. There’s no primary process that is easy or predictable,” he said. “We’re just making sure that people understand our message, our vision for this country and where my dad would take us.”
Josh Romney addressed concerns about his father’s health care plan in Massachusetts, which he called “a state solution to a state problem.”
He also stressed that his dad is “firmly pro-life,” and painted him as an outsider with important business experience.
“My dad’s the one guy who has never worked one day in Washington, D.C.”