Newt Gingrich’s harsh rhetoric against President Obama, mischievous nature, and fervent embrace of Americanism and American exceptionalism fit South Carolina’s political climate to a tee.
But Gingrich’s fate in the Palmetto State may well depend on whether voters conflate “legality” with “citizenship” and whether Gingrich’s stance on what to do with illegal immigrants who have been in the country for 25 years amounts to a form of amnesty.
At a town hall gathering at the College of Charleston, hosted by Representative Tim Scott, a rising conservative star, Gingrich reiterated that, contrary to what some of his presidential candidates have been insinuating, he does not support giving citizenship or voting rights to illegals who have been here for 25 years, but also does not support police forcibly removing them either. Gingrich said those decisions would be left up to local citizen boards.
Gingrich also ramped up his rhetoric against President Obama on everything from the Environmental Protection Agency to the National Labor Relations Board, which has tried to prevent Boeing from opening up a plant in right-to-work South Carolina, by saying he would defund it.
But his harshest rhetoric was saved for President Obama and the Department of Justice in regards to a DOJ lawsuit that targets South Carolina’s immigration law, which allows for police officers to check the immigration status of those they may suspect are illegally in the country.
Gingrich said Congress should cut off funding to federal lawsuits against states that enact state level legislation to make it easier for states to enforce federal laws that are already on the books.
Gingrich said that to think of it as an “enforcement society rather than a sanctuary society.”
“This is the opposite of sanctuary states,” Gingrich said.
Earlier, in a statement, Gingich said, “After years of failure on the part of the federal government to achieve border security, it is an outrage that the Obama Administration would seek to block South Carolina and other states who choose to pick up the slack. If the Obama Administration put as much energy and resources into controlling the border as it does into attacking our own states, we would have 100% border security by now.”
Gingrich also admonished President Obama for allowing sixteen foreign countries to join the DOJ lawsuit against South Carolina.
“It is inconceivable that these foreign countries would have joined a lawsuit that deals exclusively with the meaning of the U.S. Constitution if President Obama had made it clear that their participation was not welcome,” Gingrich said. “It makes you wonder what country does President Obama think he is President of.”
Added Gingrich: “Welcoming foreign governments to participate in constitutional disputes between our federal government and the government of several of the states touches upon American sovereignty. Sovereignty means our right to self-government, that is to say, our right and ability to rule ourselves rather than following the dictates of others. In weakening our sovereignty by such actions as welcoming the participation of foreign governments in a judicial determination of the meaning of the U.S. Constitution – a question foreign governments have zero competence in – President Obama ignores the core fundamentals of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Obama administration should defend American sovereignty from foreign encroachment not abet such encroachment.”
Gingrich hammered this theme home in the town hall, naming one South American country after another and saying Obama sided with countries such as Argentina and Uruguay while Gingrich sided with America.
Gingrich also spoke emphatically of American sovereignty and how the American experience is unique because citizens loan the government rights that they were given by God.
His embrace of American exceptionalism gives him leeway when it comes to his personal and political baggage, especially in a cycle that seems to lack a candidate who not only is a compelling orator but is also fluent in speaking of American exceptionalism in ways that move the conservative primary electorate.
“America is magic,” Gingrich said toward the end of the town hall. “We really do believe we can be a city upon a hill … we really do believe we have been endowed by our Creator.”
And keeping with his promise of running a positive and optimistic campaign, Gingrich told students in South Carolina that may be down on America’s prospects to not give in to the naysayers.
Gingrich said he was bullish on America this century and simply said that when it comes to America, the world should heed these words: “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Earlier, in an appearance on CNN, Rep. Tim Scott said that though he did not agree with all of Gingrich’s positions on immigration, if it were a two person race between Gingrich and Mitt Romney in South Carolina, Gingrich would win the Palmetto State.