Presidential candidate Newt Gringrich will be stopping in New York's most conservative borough, Staten Island, on Saturday. He will be hosting a town hall meeting that is sponsored by the Staten Island Tea Party.
Gingrich had a major surge in the polls in the wake of Herman Cain's sexual assault scandal. Recent polls suggest that he has become a major contender against the GOP frontrunner, Gov. Mitt Romney.
We reached out to all of the candidates, at least the ones where we could establish some sort of contact with them, said Staten Island Tea Party co-organizer Frank Santarpia. The Staten Island Tea Party has been active on the local political scene for the past several years. Santarpia mentioned that the organization is proud to host any presidential candidate, even President Barak Obama, in Staten Island, without ever endorsing a major political figure.
The Staten Island Tea Party does not endorse. Our goal is to keep people informed and up to date on the candidates, said Santarpia. Santarpia also said that Republicans have often looked to Staten Island for support.
Staten Island is the only Republican borough of the five and the national Republican Party has taken notice, he said, adding that Staten Island serves as a solid conservative base for Republican candidates competing in New York.
However, Gingrich does not have the endorsement of key political figures in Staten Island. Freshman Congressman Michael Grimm has voiced his support for Mitt Romney, earning the ire of some Staten Island conservatives according to the Staten Island Advance. He became the first in New York state congressman to give him Romney's support. Former Congressman and Borough President Guy Molinari also gave his endorsement to the Massachusetts governor.
Gingrich will be speaking at the Hilton Garden Inn on South Avenue. The event is available through invitation only. Back in June, the current House Speaker John Boehner also spoke at the Hilton Garden Inn at a fundraiser in support of Rep. Michael Grimm.
Gingrich becomes the second Republican candidate in two weeks to visit New York City. Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke to the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel about two weeks ago.
Santarpia mentioned, however, that even though Gingrich coming to Staten Island may influence potential voters in New York, the national race is a close one.
I'm not dodging the question, but it is just too close to call.