WINDHAM — The Newt Gingrich surge hit Windham last night.
The former House speaker from Georgia drew an estimated crowd of 1,000 people to Windham High, according to both organizers and police.
The line was backed up out the front doors a half hour before Gingrich spoke. Members of the Southern New Hampshire 9.12 liberty group, who hosted the event, had to set up the cafeteria so the overflow crowd could watch his presentation from the packed school theater.
Polling in the single digits both nationally and in New Hampshire GOP primary field over the summer, Gingrich has seen his numbers rise to the top as other candidates have faltered in recent weeks.
"I must say between this room and the overflow crowd, this is a very impressive turnout," Gingrich told the audience.
Gingrich opened by thanking his chief rival, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, for Romney's public comments yesterday that it is very important not to weaken any of the candidates who might beat President Obama and he would rather lose than engage in outrageous attacks on one of his Republican competitors.
Gingrich said the campaign has begun, for the first time, to really degenerate, particularly in ads airing in Iowa.
"I want to thank him for taking that position," Gingrich said. "I agree with him. I think what we're about is too important to weaken anybody who might defeat Barack Obama and to give Barack Obama ammunition that he shouldn't have."
Gingrich said he would release a letter today to his staff, consultants and surrogate campaigners indicating his determination to run "a positive campaign."
He also said he would publicly disown any so-called super political action committee engaging in negative campaigning on his behalf and encourage people to withhold contributions to them.