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Troubles aside, Gingrich shows confidence in campaign
PELLA — What does former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich consider to be the biggest single challenge facing America?
Well, being honest about what the challenges actually are.
Monday, Gingrich, who entered the 2012 GOP presidential race in May, talked to more than 100 people in Pella about who endows rights, the importance of school prayer, and the impact of job creation on the American family.
“You can’t have strong families if they can’t earn a living,” Gingrich said. “America only works when America is working. We must demand we stop killing jobs; you could turn (the economy) around very fast.”
Gingrich said one out of every six Americans either gets or qualifies for food stamps from the government.
“Friday’s (national unemployment numbers) suggests one out of six people eligible for work is underemployed, unemployed or have dropped out,” of the workforce, he said.
Gingrich is the sixth presidential candidate to participate in the religious conservative The Family Leader’s Presidential Lecture Series. Participants cross Iowa in one day, speaking at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Pella Christian High School in Pella and the University of Iowa in Iowa City, although Gingrich skipped the the stop in Sioux Center. The Aug. 8 lecture date is still to be determined, The Family Leader CEO Bob Vander Plaats said.
The former House Speaker is perhaps one of the more moderate Republicans to headline the Presidential Lecture Series. Yet, Gingrich, who converted to Catholicism in 2006, also talked about the significance of school prayer and sovereign rights.
“You have to have a nation based on faith; that’s why it says we are endowed by our creator. We’re the only country to say power comes from God to each of us,” he said. “The founding fathers believed (in order) to be a free country, you had to have a healthy culture with people who understand that rights came from God, and their responsibilities go to God.”
“Do your rights come from your creator or not? If you think so, it’s time for us to stand up for Washington,” he said.
Gingrich stayed mum if he will sign The Family Leader’s Marriage Vow — a candidate pledge for endorsement — which, among other things, says the signed candidate will promise personal fidelity to one’s spouse. Gingrich, married three times, had divorces stem from extramarital affairs. He has been married to Callista Gingrich for the last decade.
He has sought reconciliation from God, he said.
“There are things I’ve done that I wish I hadn’t done,” he said, adding he and Callista Gingrich are close to his two adult daughters and two young grandchildren. “You have to decide who I am at (age) 68 — someone who’s learned from my life, willing to help this country and serve to this country.”
Gingrich’s campaign has been plagued with problems over the last couple of months. Last month, most of his top paid staff — including advisor Iowa attorney Craig Schoenfeld — abruptly quit en masse. Just prior, Gingrich drew fire from Republicans and Democrats alike for taking a Greek cruise vacation while his rivals wooed Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and also for him having an extensive debt up to $500,000 to the luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co.
Finally, Gingrich’s campaign reported raising $2 million for the second quarter, but is reported a million dollars in debt. Still, when asked if he believed his campaign would last past the caucuses, the former Speaker was confident it would all the way into “next August” when the National Republican Convention will take place.