Anything is possible; don’t count him out, Republican Newt Gingrich told Maryland Republicans on Thursday night.
Among his other points: The defection of his senior staff and fundraising corps may yet have no bearing on his presidential bid. The economy is so bad that in 2012 there may be “no blue states.” And when it comes to jobs, the nation’s first black president may turn out to be the worst for America’s blacks.
Gingrich’s speech amounted to a rough cut of the messages he appears to be honing for 12 days of campaigning next month in Iowa, on a shoe-string budget. The former House speaker acknowledged that his embattled campaign may no longer have the money to participate in the state’s Ames straw poll event.
He began his speech Thursday at a Marriott near Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall airport partly by blaming the media for his predicament.
“My campaign has been very up and down and the news media has preferred gossip to substance. They love reporting anything that is negative, and I don’t blame them. If I was trying to protect Barack Obama, I would too,” Gingrich said, alluding to reports that he holds debts and a million-dollar line of credit at Tiffany’s jewelry stores, and that his senior staff left after Gingrich and his wife took an ill-timed and lavish vacation.
“These things happen over and over. They fascinate the media, but they have no long-term, historic meaning” to the outcome of a presidential campaign, Gingrich said, referring to the staff upheaval.
“We’ll either have a message that resonates with the country’s 14 million unemployed ... or we won’t.”
From there, Gingrich pivoted to his evolving message and an attack on President Obama’s address this week on reducing troop levels in Afghanistan.
Though Gingrich stopped short of saying Obama was wrong to begin withdrawing troops, he said one of the president’s most quoted lines of the speech revealed a “dangerous and delusional” worldview that must be stopped.
“Is the ‘tide of war receding,’ as President Obama says?” Gingrich said. “Or is a potential tsunami of violence building offshore? I want to challenge the president to withdraw the phrase because it totally misleads the American people, and presents a delusional version of the real world.”
Gingrich then took the audience on a winding tour of world threats, from what he said was Obama’s failure to follow through on dealing with North Korea and in “sleep walking” through the growing threat of a nuclear Iran, to Syria and Libya.
In committing forces to the latter – in consultation with the United Nations and Arab League, but not with Congress – Gingrich charged that Obama was abdicating the United States’ sovereignty to “dictators, monarchs and pro-terrorist groups” abroad.
“The president is not the ambassador to the United Nations, or the representative of the Arab League. There is no authority outside the United States to which an American president can appeal to justify actions involving the sovereign power of the United States of America.”
“His vision of the American Constitution is a mortal threat to our freedoms,” Gingrich said to applause.
Regarding Maryland, Gingrich also challenged the group not to cede the state or any other traditionally blue enclave because of the depths of the economic recession.
“There are no blue states. If I am the Republican nominee, we will not concede a single state to a failed president, in the middle of a depression, who has … deprived the American people of jobs, crippled their economy, weakened their national security and driven them deeper in debt.”
Gingrich, who for many years was the only Republican to represent Georgia in the House when that state trended left, challenged Maryland Republicans to seek out votes in the poorest black areas of Baltimore and Prince George’s County.
“Barack Obama is the best food-stamp president in the history of America. … I would like to be the best paycheck president in American history,” Gingrich said. He instructed Republicans to ask the state’s poor, black voters, “Would you rather your children have food stamps or a paycheck?”
“In May, we had 41 percent unemployment among black teens. No administration in modern times has failed blacks more than the Obama administration,” he said. “We have to have the courage to walk into that neighborhood, talk to that preacher, talk to that small business, talk to that mother, and we have to have a convincing case that we know how to create jobs.”