As the fellow Republican presidential candidates are stirring up support among voters for the Iowa caucus, Newt Gingrich became emotional Friday while discussing his late mother's mental health.
The former speaker of the House of Representatives was crying as he discussed in a "Moms Matter" forum in Des Moines, Iowa about how his own mother inspired his own political career.
"My whole emphasis on brain science comes indirectly from dealing, um – see I'm becoming emotional – dealing with the real problems of real people in my family. So it's not a theory, it's in fact my mother," said Gingrich.
Some observers say Gingrich's tears recall a moment in 2008 when Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton cried during a New Hampshire event, which some viewed as a "humanizing" moment.
At an earlier event, Gingrich attacked Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the second time this week for using personal wealth to finance an electoral campaign.
The Republican candidate said he wants to overhaul the entire electoral system, claiming he does not have money like the mayor to buy a seat.
“This current system is a disgrace. When Bloomberg can buy the mayorship of New York and nobody can compete with him because they're all under various contribution rules, when millionaires go out and have huge advantages, there's something profoundly wrong with the system,” Gingrich said.
Once leading polls, Gingrich is now the middle of the pack after opponents trained a double-barrel television blitz attacking his character.
"I would be ashamed to run some of the ads they’re running, and I will not participate in that kind of process," said Gingrich.
The onslaught has largely been done by supporters of Mitt Romney, though not Romney himself, who again stuck to going after President Barack Obama on Friday.
"He’s in Hawaii right now. We’re out in the cold and the rain and the wind because we care about America. He’s out there, he just finished his 90th round of golf," said Romney.
And speaking of the president, Romney's son sparked some Democratic anger for rehashing a discredited line about Obama's origins.
“I heard someone suggest the other day that as soon as President Obama releases his grades, his birth certificate and a long list of things,” the younger Romney was filmed saying.
The former Massachusetts governor is off to New Hampshire for the first part of the weekend. That state's primary falls just a week after the caucuses.
In Iowa, he stumped with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who made a Garden State threat to those considering voting for someone other than Romney.
"You don’t do what you’re supposed to do on Tuesday for Mitt Romney, I will be back Jersey-style, people,” said Christie.
Other Republicans with strong support leading into the caucus are Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who is backed by Libertarians, and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who is backed by evangelical Christians.
As for Gingrich, the crowd didn't question his sincerity.
“I didn’t think that it was put on. I thought it was real. In fact, my guess is that if Newt Gingrich could keep from crying in front of a group of women, he probably would try to do so,” said one onlooker, Jen Green, who heard the speech.
Observers say as many as half of potential voters in the Iowa caucus may be undecided.