From Chris Moody at THE TICKET at YAHOO!:
NAPLES, Fla. — The staff at Books-a-Million didn’t know what hit them.
In preparation for a Saturday morning book signing with Newt Gingrich, the bookstore printed numbered cards for the first 500 people looking for an autograph from the former House speaker and Republican presidential candidate. The store gave out its first card at 8 a.m. on Black Friday–27 hours before Gingrich was scheduled to arrive–and ran out before he stepped in the door. After that, the Gingrich fans had to fend for themselves.
Gingrich spent the two days after Thanksgiving on a campaign swing through Naples, Florida, a wealthy conservative stronghold in the Sunshine State that was, to say the least, extremely welcoming.
After his speech, during which he took time to clarify his position on illegal immigration, Gingrich hopped over to a $1,000-per-person fundraiser at a city council member’s home and then spent four hours the next morning at a Books-a-Million, where he brought in 650 people.
After months in the middle tier, Gingrich is the latest presidential candidate not named Mitt to ascend to the top of national polls. And with just five weeks until the first caucus in Iowa, he may have the best chance at being there when it matters. On Sunday, the largest newspaper in New Hampshire, the Union Leader, endorsed Gingrich in the Republican primary.
Although he has been in the public eye for years and seen his share of crowds, this kind of attention is new for Presidential Candidate Newt.