Newt Gingrich was heckled during his opening remarks at a South Carolina campaign event last night when a protester loudly demanded that the candidate release his ethics report.
The man shouted, “why don’t you release your ethics report” repeatedly while Mr. Gingrich was urging the audience to get out the vote in today’s South Carolina primary.
The crowd quickly shouted down the protester following his remarks, as many loudly jeered the man, calling him “a dork” and suggesting he “should get out”.
Mr. Gingrich responded by stating that “actually if you do a little research instead of shouting mindlessly, you will discover that the entire thing is available online on the Thomas system. You can print it out, it’s about 900 pages, and when you are done reading it you can let me know if you have any other questions.”
He then went out to say that “I must presume you are supporting the candidate who’s afraid to release his income tax”, which brought loud cheers and chants of “go Newt go” from the crowd.
Protester outside Newt Gingrich Event in South Carolina
The man was quickly escorted out by police and Gingrich resumed his speech. As attendees made their way back to the parking lot however, they were greeted by the same man who set up his protest just outside the event.
The man, who identified himself as Ken Merritt but did not identify where he was from, chanted “he cheated the ethics of the house, he cheated on his wives, and he cheated the draft - what a guy.”
“We forgive you Newt but we will not vote for you. Newt Gingrich, cheater in chief.”
In 1997, Gingrich was forced to pay $300,000 for ethics violations in Congress. A copy of the 1997 report from the House of Representatives Select Committee on Ethics can be found here.
On Friday, Romney also demanded that Gingrich release his ethics report prior to the election. According to CNN, Romney told reporters at an event in South Carolina that “you know [the report] is going to get out before the general election. He ought to get it out now”.
Gingrich’s event was held on the hangar deck of the USS Yorktown, a decommissioned warship located in Charleston Harbour. The ship now serves as a museum. The event was also the last one of the day on Gingrich’s schedule, one day prior to today’s primary.
According to recent polls tracking voter opinion in South Carolina, Mr. Gingrich holds a strong 6-point lead over Mitt Romney in the state going into today.
According to the most recent national poll from Gallup Tracking, Gingrich’s lead over Romney is even stronger across the United States, with the former speaker showing 30% support to Romney’s 20%.
Voters in South Carolina vote today in the third Republican presidential primary of 2012 to determine who may run against President Barack Obama in November of this year.