Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is in Urbandale, Iowa, this morning, serving as the “draw” for a breakfast fundraiser for a Republican congressional candidate. That candidate is Brad Zaun, a state senator who is challenging Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell this year.
The event is being staged in the Des Moines Christian School cafeteria. Zaun just took the small stage on the north side of the room. Flanked by an American flag to his right and the Iowa flag to his left, he is decrying the national debt.
“That is the reason why I’m running. I’m scared to death…not to mention the take over of the health care system,” Zaun said, to applause.
At 8:17 a.m., Gingrich is introduced. The crowd rises to applaud. Gingrich joked about the number of Zaun family members Zaun had introduced, as they’re here this morning. “I thought maybe we were at a family reunion,” Gingrich said.
(Listen to the Gingrich speech, plus Q&A with the crowd: GingrichZaun.)
“…It’s very important to recognize an amazing # of things are going to change based on what’s going to happen in November….We have now had two years….of a secular, socialist machine…and Brad represents one of the key people who can help turn this country around.
Of Obama’s 2008 campaign theme, Gingrich aid this: “He wanted to change what we believe in.”
Without mentioning Boswell by name, Gingrich told the crowd: “You have a congressman in this district who voted 98 percent with Pelosi.”
Gingrich told the crowd his American Solutions group had printed up bumper stickers which say 2+2=4.
“You cannot explain the current spending in Washington except that they’ve forgotten 2+2=4,” Gingrich said, adding there’s an inability in D.C. to have an “honest discussion” about a variety of issues, including “border security”.
Gingrich said the Obama is “totally out of touch” when it comes to the economy. “This is a job-killing administration which has now led us into the deepest unemployment cycle since the Great Depression,” he said. “…This election at the first level is a key test. Do we want to do more about what is crippling America?
Gingrich spoke of Terry Branstad, the GOP candidate for governor, joking that Branstad had “met ever person in Iowa 10 times.” Gingrich also spoke of Chuck Grassley, the long-time US Senator from Iowa who is seeking reelection in 2010. Those top of the ticket nominees are a “strong lead-in” for candidates like Zaun, according to Gingrich.
Gingrich didn’t specifically mentioned the financial reform bill, but he criticized the two Democrats leading the drafting of financial reform.
“Who do we have in charge of fixing it? Barney Frank and Chris Dodd who have been…lying to the country for the last 25 years…about the nature of the financial system,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich spoke briefly of his own record in congress. “I helped balance the budget when I was the speaker,” he said. “…This was very hard work…Spend less than you earn. I know it’s bold, it’s out at the edge.”
According to Gingrich, “the left” has started to “beat the drum” to raise taxes to resolve budget issues.
Gingrich suggested Obama should “borrow James Carville’s sign” from the 1992 campaign and post it in the White House as a guide for economic policy. “Instead they’re doing the opposite, capriciously killing jobs,” Gingrich said.
Next, Gingrich discussed a series of tax cuts he favors, including a 50 percent reduction in Social Security taxes for one year. He argued it would help small businesses, and help workers understand how much they’re paying in Social Security taxes.
“That would set the stage for the right kind of entitlement reform,” he said.
Gingrich got hearty applause for his call to permanently abolish the death tax, which he described as “fundamentally immoral”.
Gingrich called the federal government’s response to the oil spill in the Gulf a “case study in incompetence.”
Gingrich touched on immigration reform. “I think we’re going to have to eventually have a guest worker program, where people who are here who are willing to work and pay taxes have a legal status as a guest worker, but I will be quite candid — I would outsource the entire program to American Express or Visa or Master Card because they actually know how to run a program like that and there is zero possibility the federal bureaucracy could do it”
Gingrich spent some time expressing his support for corn-based ethanol. “We’re very much in favor of ethanol,” he said.
Gingrich said he had helped “save” the ethanol tax credit when he was speaker. “My position was very simple. If I have to choose between the money going to Iowa, South Dakota, Illinois or going to Venezuela, that’s pretty easy for me to pick,” Gingrich said, to applause from the crowd. “That probably lets you know I’m a conservative and I have a bias in favor of American money staying in America to create American jobs.”
Gingrich opened it up to questions from the crowd. There were some social issue questions, about abortion, and about Boswell. Gingrich wrapped up at 8:51 a.m.