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Being With Newt 

Tagging along at Newt Gingrich's appearance in Spokane last week.

click to enlarge Pam Roesch getting another photo with Newt at the Bing. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Pam Roesch getting another photo with Newt at the Bing.

Through the crowd, Pam Roesch swims upstream. She slips between excited teenagers and wisely-nodding older folks. Roesch has a knowing smile and a sweet voice and blue eyes set on her target: Newt Gingrich. The balloonish, silver-mopped politico is here promising cheap gas and religious salvation when he becomes president.

She’s in the right place, all the time. Walking to the Bing Crosby Theater last Thursday, Roesch finds herself next to Gingrich as he steps off his bus. She gets a photograph with him. During his speech, she enlists a young man to ferry her camera halfway up the theater aisle and snap Gingrich looking stern and regal.

Roesch is 51 but doesn’t look it. She speaks enthusiastically about the GOP — she’s a rock-ribbed conservative — but she won’t be in town to partake in the March 3 caucuses. She’s undecided on a GOP nominee but makes it clear who she doesn’t want: Mitt Romney. Strolling into the Bing, she admonishes a Romney supporter standing near the back.

“That’s another Obama, what’s wrong with you?” Roesch says in a sweet but concerned voice.

The theater fills with hope, but not the Obama kind. The audience crackles with approval as Gingrich vows to dismantle 40 percent of the Obama administration’s record before Obama’s plane lands in Chicago. And like Michele Bachmann and so many other presidential has-been hopefuls, Gingrich promises to lower the price of gas. A fool’s errand, energy experts say, but the crowd devours it.

So does Roesch. “No teleprompter, but Obama’s lost without one,” Roesch says.

When Gingrich steps into the crowd to press the flesh, Roesch knows what she wants. It takes at least 15 minutes squeezing upstream, pausing, squeezing some more. But eventually she makes it, arm around Gingrich, smiling into a bank of cameras, hustling another photo.

In Washington state, the GOP nominating caucus will be held on Saturday. In Idaho, they’re next Tuesday, Super Tuesday.

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