In a speech at a Nationwide Insurance luncheon in Iowa, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich hit many of his major campaign themes and then signed the Americans for Securing the Border Pledge.
The need for America to have a broad vision at this time was the theme of Gingrich’s speech, as it has been one of the central tenents of his campaign. Gingrich said recently that his rival for the nomination, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, is a “very competent manager” but that he is a “change agent.”
In the Iowa speech, Gingrich used history to show why this is such a critical moment for a real change agent in America. He spoke about how Abraham Lincoln envisioned a future America that would be crisscrossed by railroad tracks.
Gingrich also mentioned the difference between the economic strategies between himself and the Republican Party, and President Obama and the Democratic Party.
Gingrich mentioned Founding Father Alexander Hamilton’s “Report on Manufactures,” which he delivered to Congress when he was the Treasury secretary under President George Washington. It explained how America needed to have a diversified economy if it was to become a world power, and was a visionary document about America’s dynamic economic future. This was compared to what he called the “Alinsky tactics” of the Obama administration that impede economic growth.
According to Gingrich, this campaign will be the “widest choice in American history,” between two dramatically different world views, represented by Republicans on one side and President Obama on the other.
“If we give up American history, we will cease to be American,” Gingrich said.
It is also important for Americans to reengage in the public sphere, Gingrich insisted, saying that as Americans, “We have to grow citizenship at home.”
Gingrich then touched upon many of his own ideas for the future, including ways to make higher education both better and more affordable, how to help poor children gain the life skills they need to compete in the future, and how to responsibly reform America’s immigration policies and stem the flow of illegal aliens.
Gingrich also spoke about why he favors subsidies to an ethanol-gasoline mixture called “gasohol,” a popular measure in corn-growing states such as Iowa, but less popular in the conservative movement as a whole. He defended the fuel on the grounds that it helps keep America safe and independent.
“Economic nationalism makes sense when you are talking about national security,” Gingrich said.
On higher education, Gingrich mentioned the College of the Ozarks, which runs a program that lets students work on the school grounds to pay their tuition. He said this makes the College of the Ozarks both successful and exceedingly efficient.
Having students and young people work was a major part of his education reform ideas and is part of his campaign’s larger theme of making this a country of “paychecks not food stamps.” He advocated paying young children for such activities as reading books. This encourages and rewards hard work, particularly by giving poor children a chance to see the fruits of their labor.
At the end of his speech, Gingrich was asked to sign a pledge, created by Americans for Securing the Border, to fix immigration policies in the United States and stem the flow of immigration.
The pledge reads:
I, Newt Gingrich, candidate for President of the United States, pledge to support and speedily expedite the construction of a date-certain, secure, multi-layered fence (fence locations to be specified by the Border Patrol or Homeland Security) across the U.S.-Mexican border to be completed prior to the end of 2013.
Gingrich’s dramatic rise in the polls has come mostly from his popularity, rather than any organized strategy. He performs exceptionally well in settings such as this speech in Iowa, where he is given a platform to speak at length. Gingrich currently leads in Iowa polls by a comfortable margin over second-place Romney.