Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich met privately with a small group shortly after noon here at Pella Christian High School, a “round table” organized by The Family Leader. Gingrich is the candidate being featured in this month’s “presidential lecture series” sponsored by The Family Leader and he’s speaking to a crowd in the school’s auditorium early this afternoon. He’ll go on to a lecture at the University of Iowa, then this evening he and his wife will screen one of their films in Cedar Rapids.
“I always left the smarter” from being in Gingrich’s presence, according to Bob Vander Plaats, president of The Family Leader. “…He represents the adult in the room today.”
Gingrich said his wife had advised him to share this: “We have Pella Windows in our hosue…I can’t say I have Vermeer farm equipment.” Pella & Vermeer are both manufacturers based in Pella.
Gingrich focussed first on an economic message: “People need to focus on last Friday’s job report….You can’t have strong families if they can’t earn a living…For people to be independent, they have to pursue happiness, they can’t be given dependence…You have a job-killing administration…America only works when Americans are working. We’re not a country designed to have everybody on food stamps and welfare.”
Gingrich called the jobs report “horrifying” because it shows unemployed, underemployed and those who’ve dropped out of the workforce is growing.
“So I would argue in terms of social policy that one of the first things every pro-family group in the country should do is demand” an end to Obama Administration “job killing” policies.
“Virtually every economic problem we have is caused by bad policies and you could turn it around very fast,” Gingrich told the crowd.
As for the debt ceiling talks in D.C.: “It shouldn’t be just cut the spending. It should be cut the spending that’s crippling us.”
Gingrich offered as a prescription reopening off-shore oil-drilling; ensuring there are no new taxes; abolishing the cap gains tax; reducing the corporate tax; allowing businesses “100 percent expensing” for equipment, in one year; and abolishing the so-called death tax.
Gingrich reviewed his energy outlook. “If you go back to the founding fathers and I’ve recently both done a movie…and a book…All of the founding fathers would have told you we have to have a national based on faith…because they really did believe that your personal rights…come from God to each one of you personally…Because in the American model, the center of power is the citizen, which is why we wrote the 10th Amendment…the 2nd Amendment…The founding fathers believed in order to be a survivable, free country…you had to have people who understood their rights came from God.”
Gingrich expressed opposition to the Supreme Court opinion which essentially banned prayer in schools. “It abolishes the sense of hierarchy and responsibility,” he said. “…It doesn’t mean we don’t have a certain amount of chaos in our lives.”
Gingrich made reference to his mother and step-father, his step-siblings and his own efforts to give his children and grandchildren “some sense that’s organic, that’s different from the state” about what it means to be a family.
Gingrich mentions The Gettsburg Address. “Lincoln had been driven to that by the sheer agony of the war. He’d been driven to understand that there are things bigger than we are…There is life beyond this life…and that we as Americans inherit the responsibility to extend freedom…I think is at the heart of what we are.”
First question came from Vander Plaats, about the “two world views” in the coming election. “our political elites and our news media elites really don’t want to have this conversation,” Gingrich said, referencing two of his films. “The point of both movies is freedom comes from faith and if you eliminate faith…I think that the choice we’re going to face is that stark and that direct.”
Gingrich told the crowd he decided to run for president to ask the country if they believe their rights are derived from their creator and, if so, he said it’s time for a revolution to ensure that view is the majority view in the nation’s capitol.
Next question came from a student, about restructuring the “failing education system.”
Gingrich mentioned another book he wrote, with his daughter, Jackie, and touted his idea of giving grants to parents, and giving parents the chance to decide which school their child attends. He described the education system as a “bureaucratic structure of boredom that doesn’t work.” Gingrich also mentioned returning discipline to the classroom and respect for the “worthy” teachers.
Another emailed questions, about the contract with America & the Tea Party. “Tea Parties have been very helpful overall…They represent legitimate anger…People should be angry. The system’s out of control. It’s arrogant, corrupt and totally unresponsive to the American people.”
He mentions another of his books: Stop Paying the Crooks. “Why should you tax money go to a crook?” Gingrich asked the crowd. “…The Tea Party should be angry. I’m with them.”
Gingrich said the challenge for the Republican Leadership is gaining greater majority in the House and a 60-seat majority in the Senate. “Defeating Obama is not enough,” Gingrich said. “…You need to fundamentally change Washington.”
The next question was about “ObamaCare” and Gingrich said he is for the “absolutely repeal” of national health care reform “in the first 90 days of a Gingrich presidency.”
Gingrich was next asked about stewardship of the environment. He talked about his proposal of an Environmental Solutions Agency to replace the EPA, something he first started talking about this past winter. He also talked about “Green Conservatism” — like cleaning up a river that “was on fire.” He also talked about the banning of DDT, which he said clearly “was killing birds” however there are places in Africa where DDT should be used to kill mosquitoes which are causing malaria. “Do it correctly here; don’t do it over here, but somehow all the common sense gets erased,” he said.
Gingrich is asked by a person in the crowd if it’s true the US would default if the debt ceiling isn’t raised. Yes, Gingrich said, quoting the founding fathers and their “anti-inflation” views. “It would really be a violation of the constitution,” Gingrich said. “…I understand different people have different views. I wouldn’t give the president a penny of debt ceiling that isn’t matched dollar-for-dollar by spending cuts….I helped balance the federal budget…It took three eyars…but we couldn’t have done it in four months….They ought to produce a real track…that gets them to a balanced budget…in five years….Insist that we turn the corner and we move on a trajectory that gets us back to a balanced budget.”
Vander Plaats interjects: “Good answer.”
The next question came from someone who wrote of Gingrich: “It’s no secret you’re on your third marriage.”
Gingrich gave the answer he regularly does when asked about this issue, but added an interesting note that may be interpreted as a comparison shot at some of his opponents, like three-term Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
“You have to have somebody who has had the experience of doing some things that are real,” Gingrich said. “….Given my total experience as a public figure, am I a person who does what he believes in?”
Gingrich was next asked about what he considers the country’s #1 problem.
Gingrich focused first on last month’s New Hampshire debate among the candidates and its “truly stupid questions.”
Gingrich, as you may recall, was asked: “Dancing with the Stars or American Idol?”
Gingrich, in the debate, picked the FOX show, but he told the crowd in Pella: “What I said was: what a pathetic waste of an opportunity to have a serious conversation.”
The number one problem in America, according to Gingrich, is the nation’s inability to have a “real conversation…and get beyond both demagoguery and trivialization…We need an adult conversation that’s not baloney and we need to tell most of the negative people in politics to go away.” Gingrich got applause from the crowd, and then he was given a chance to give a closing statement. Gingrich asked the crowd to be “with me, not for me.”
AUDIO: Gingrich’s lecture in Pella, plus the Q&A after. 52 min