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Newt Gingrich cancels SRLC appearance because of sparse attendance

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Apparently, the image of sparse crowds won’t do for a candidate trying to catch a surge to victory in Saturday’s South Carolina primary.

View Photo Gallery: The former House speaker is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich canceled a planned appearance at the Southern Republican Leaders Conference Friday after only a handful of supporters and conference attendees showed up to hear him speak.

“The campaign has discussed with the organizers the attendance of the event. Based on that, we won’t be attending,” said Gingrich spokesman Nathan Naidu.

There was no indication that the poor showing was related directly to Gingrich. A speech by former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum to the same group Thursday was similarly poorly attended.

But the image of the candidate addressing a largely empty auditorium on the campus of the College of Charleston apparently did not mesh with the campaign’s narrative that Gingrich is being broadly embraced by conservatives.

Naidu said the decision was a mutual one with the SLRC and that canceling would provide Gingrich more time to tour a Charleston area Children’s Hospital, his next stop for the busy pre-Primary campaign day.

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