In a story about Mitt Romney using today’s campaign events to lower expectations in the South Carolina primary, Reuters editorialized:
Gingrich missed a chance on Friday to follow up on his strong debate performance when he canceled an appearance at a Republican Party conference in Charleston because of a small crowd.
Although only a minor blip in a long campaign, the cancellation again raised questions about whether Gingrich is disciplined enough to win the nomination and then go on to beat Obama in November.
“He gave his word that he was coming here and at the last second, something better came along,” said Ann Sullivan, a Republican from North Carolina attending the conference.
I was there this morning. Gingrich was the first speaker on the slate for the Southern Republican Leadership Conference at TD Arena this morning, followed by our own J. Christian Adams and then Ron Paul. The SRLC has been eclipsed by the primary all week, and it is struggling badly to hold audiences for any speaker. Media cameras were on hand, but little audience, when it was time for Gingrich to speak, through no fault of his own. His choice: Go ahead and speak, and hand the media footage of him addressing a large and mostly empty arena on a crucial campaign day; or cancel and annoy the ten people who happened to be there. He and his campaign made the rational call, and canceled. That footage would have become a cudgel for the media, to beat up on Gingrich for being unable attract an audience the day after he crushed John King in the debate, and the day before South Carolina’s crucial primary.
And as it turns out, Reuters used it to beat him up anyway.