Gingrich Ups Romney At Iowa Chocolate Factory

After Gingrich failed to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot, Mitt Romney compared Gingrich's disorganized campaign to a well-known I Love Lucy episode. Gingrich stopped at an Iowa chocolate store Wednesday but things didn't get out of hand like they did in the TV show. Instead, Gingrich challenged Romney again to a series of one-on-one debates.

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GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: I'm Greg Allen in Sioux City.

At every stop in Iowa, former House speaker Newt Gingrich touts his experience. He calls himself a supply-side conservative who worked with Ronald Reagan in the '80s, and again as House speaker in the '90s, to revive the economy.

But he's not averse to a good photo op.

(SOUNDBITE OF A CROWD)

ERIKA JENSEN: OK. Oh, you got a little drips.

NEWT GINGRICH: I'm still dripping.

JENSEN: Yup.

ALLEN: At The Chocolate Season in Algona yesterday, owner Erika Jensen showed Gingrich and his wife Callista how to make hand-dipped chocolates. It gave him an opportunity to pick up a feud he's been having with Mitt Romney. Earlier in the week, after Gingrich failed to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot, Romney compared his campaign to a well-known "I Love Lucy" episode.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

GINGRICH: Governor Romney had a cute line yesterday, about my team resembling Lucy in the chocolate factory. And I just want to say, here I am in the chocolate factory.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ALLEN: Once again, Gingrich challenged Romney to a series of one-on-one debates, a challenge he acknowledged Romney was not likely to accept. After leading for a time in Iowa, Gingrich has been dropping in the polls, in large part because of attack ads run by opponents.

His campaign says they're not out of money. They announced a $500,000 ad buy for the closing week in Iowa. But the fact remains, that Gingrich has been outspent and is trying to regain his momentum one campaign event at a time.

But at campaign stops, sometimes unexpected things happen. Such as when a big question like the economy, becomes personal.

MICHELLE WILLIAMS: This is difficult, so bear with me. February 21st, the kids and I will be homeless.

ALLEN: Michelle Williams, a single mom with four kids asked Gingrich what he would do as president to help people like her. He said he'd start by repealing Dodd-Frank, a financial reform law that he says encourages banks to foreclose on delinquent mortgages. Williams said later, that wouldn't solve her problems, but she appreciated his answer and may even vote for him in next week's caucus.

Greg Allen, NPR news, Sioux City.

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