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Gingrich to visit Frederick Monday

Sunday - 4/1/2012, 6:00am  ET

Mitt Romney was a no-show, but Newt Gingrich is coming to Frederick.

The Republican presidential candidate and former speaker of the House of Representatives is scheduled to hold a rally at the Frederick Motor Co. on Waverley Drive from 11 a.m. to noon Monday and visit Hood College at 2 p.m. that day.

The visit to Hood on the eve of the primary election was requested by the Gingrich campaign, according to Dave Diehl, Hood's executive director of marketing and communications.

"His campaign called our director of student activities yesterday and asked to schedule a visit," Diehl said Saturday.

Karen Winterling, Gingrich's Maryland campaign coordinator, said she has been putting out the word about the car dealership visit via a campaign website as well as Facebook, Twitter and a newsletter she sends to 3,000 Maryland Republicans -- not all of them Gingrich supporters.

"Most people have a tremendous amount of respect for Newt," she said. "Even if they're not going to vote for him, they'll come hear him speak because he's a good speaker."

Winterling did not know why the candidate decided to spend the last day before the Maryland and Wisconsin primaries in Frederick.

Alex Mooney, chairman of the Maryland Republican Party and a former state senator, said coming to Frederick was all Gingrich's decision.

"He's made Maryland his highest priority," Mooney said.

Recent polls show only 12 percent of likely Maryland Republican voters supporting Gingrich. The candidate himself recently conceded that Romney would be the likely nominee.

Gingrich will also be the first presidential candidate in this year's election to visit Frederick County. Romney's campaign had scheduled a March 21 rally at the Frederick Fairgrounds, but canceled it days later.

Mooney believes that, with Romney and Rick Santorum fighting over Wisconsin, Gingrich could pick up some delegates in conservative areas of Maryland.

Among those is Eulalia "Lala" Mooney, of Frederick, Alex's mother, who is on the primary ballot as a Gingrich convention delegate.

Her son sent her an email Saturday morning, she said, to let her know the candidate would be in Frederick.

"I have no information," she said when asked about why Gingrich had chosen Frederick. "I help my son a lot. Sometimes I know. Sometimes I don't. I do what is helpful."

Alex Mooney, who will be a superdelegate at his party's convention, is not endorsing any candidate in the GOP primary, but he urged his mother to run as a Gingrich delegate.

A longtime Gingrich supporter, Lala Mooney said she met the candidate about a year ago at an event in Glen Burnie. She told him about her background as a Cuban refugee and "I found him receptive and easy to talk to," she said.

Even if he does not have the delegates to win, Gingrich is a "man of ideas," she said.

"Not everybody is going to win, but everyone is listening to his ideas. The process makes people be more educated."

After working out the details of the candidate's Hood appearance, Diehl sent an email to the entire campus Saturday, announcing that Gingrich will appear Monday at Rosenstock Hall. The event is open to the public. The lecture hall seats about 375 people, and "we're hoping and planning it will be filled," Diehl said.

Gingrich is the first presidential candidate to visit the Hood campus in well over a decade, Diehl said.

"We are happy to have any candidate here of any stripe," he said. "I talked to (Hood) President (Ron) Volpe. We're excited. The students are excited. ... These are the types of things we like to see on campus."

Diehl recalled a well-known photo, about half a century old, of John F. Kennedy visiting the college campus.

"This is pretty rare for Hood," he said.

Rick Santorum is scheduled to call a local radio show today.

The Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania is slated to be on "The Alex Mooney Show" from 3 to 4 p.m. on WFMD.

Mooney said he gave the candidate's brother, Dan, his phone number during a campaign visit to Frederick last week.

Mooney and the candidate will talk about the Maryland Republican primary election on Tuesday, said Mooney, who is the chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.

Listeners can call in at 301-694-9363.