callista_MM

Callista Gingrich, Newt Gingrich’s wife, spoke in Madison on Wednesday, saying the general election would be the most important of race for a lifetime.[/media-credit]

With the Wisconsin presidential primary less than a week away, Callista Gingrich, wife of former Speaker of the House and current contender for the Republican presidential nomination Newt Gingrich, spoke to voters Wednesday asking them for their support on the campaign trail.

Callista Gingrich spoke to a group of supporters at the Madison Club, reflecting on her experiences on the campaign trail and her Wisconsin background.

“There are only a few months left before the most important election of our lifetime,” she said. “We believe America is an exceptional nation and must remain so. I believe my husband is the only candidate with the experience and the knowledge necessary to rebuild the America we all love.”

She said over the past few months her husband’s campaign has been a “roller coaster” as various frontrunners have emerged in the race.

Gingrich said the Midwestern values she received growing up in Whitehall, Wis., helped shape her life and her parents taught her the value of hard work, personal responsibility and common sense.

“Growing up in Whitehall, I have had many wonderful memories of family, friends and some of Wisconsin’s finest traditions including cheese curds, brats, the polka, bowling and, of course, the Green Bay Packers,” she said.

Wisconsin has 42 delegates for the Republican convention and has a bound delegate system where a candidate who wins one congressional district gets three delegates.

Robert Lorge, state director for the Newt Gingrich Campaign, said 15 of the other 18 delegates are at-large, while the two Republican National Committee members can vote for any candidate as well as the state chair.

He said the Republican convention this fall could be a contested convention. He said the last time this happened was in 1920 when Republican President Warren Harding was running for the nomination.

Harding entered the convention with about six percent of the delegates, while his main contender, General Leonard Wood, had almost 30 percent. However, after 10 votes Harding won with 70 percent.

“Not only did he win, but he became president,” Lorge said. “And nobody knows who General Wood is anymore, but he was the favorite.”

He said none of the contenders for the Republican presidential nomination are going to have the required 1,144 delegates in the convention to receive the nomination on the first vote.

After the first ballot, delegates are no longer bound to vote for a candidate. He said Newt Gingrich’s strategy is to get unbound delegates and convince other delegates after the first vote to vote for him.

“He’s the first one to see the clearing through the woods and knows that that is the next battlefield, and so he’s going to let [Rick] Santorum and [Mitt] Romney duke it out amongst themselves like two cats in a bag while he goes for the real prize, which is the delegates,” Lorge said.

Outside the event, Michael Kissick, a Madison resident, handed out fliers with Progressive-era Republican Robert La Follette to remind people of how much the Republican Party has changed.

“I would like people to look at the historical progression of the Republican Party and ask themselves when is it going to stop”? Kissick said. “How far to the right can they go? Because I can’t imagine them going any farther to the right.”