The man who orchestrated the Republican wave that took out Spokane’s own Speaker of the U.S. House nearly two decades ago was back Thursday, this time with a bid for the White House.
Newt Gingrich finds himself trailing in polls, well behind former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the surging campaign of former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. But he said Washington could help put his campaign back in the running.
He said Washington, which holds its GOP caucuses on March 3, can make a “big difference” in the race as the final contest before Super Tuesday, when 10 states, including Idaho, hold primaries or caucuses.
Gingrich spoke at the Bing Crosby Theater to crowd of more than 500. He is the third Republican presidential candidate to campaign in the Inland Northwest in the past two weeks. Santorum and Texas Congressman Ron Paul held rallies last week.
He criticized former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney a few times but saved most of his fire for President Barack Obama.
Gingrich mocked the speech on energy and gas prices that Obama gave on Thursday and Obama’s apology for the accidental burning of Qurans at an American base in Afghanistan.
“There seems to be nothing that radical Islamists can do to get Barack Obama’s attention in a negative way, and he has consistently apologized to the people who do not deserve the apology of the president of the United State, period,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich ended his half-hour speech by asking the crowd to use social media, like Twitter and Facebook, to tout his plan to lower gas prices to $2.50-per-gallon.
He said Obama is “waging war on the Catholic church” with recent decisions affecting contraception health care coverage.
“The Obama administration is the most anti-religious administration in American history,” he said.
He also said the Obama has not been strong enough against North Korea and Iran.
“This president is the greatest national security disaster we’ve had in my lifetime,” he said. “In many ways the world is spinning out of control more than at any time since the end of World War II.”
He called for the repeal of the health care overhaul approved by Congress and Obama in 2010, the repeal the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory law that was approved in 2010 and Sarbanes-Oxley, a 2002 act that created regulations on accounting firms.
Gingrich called the Environmental Protection Agency “a remarkably destructive agency” and said the EPA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service need to be overhauled to be “collaborative with local government, not dictating to them” by using innovation and incentives.
“These have become Washington-based bureaucracies out of touch with reality, willing to incur huge economic costs through bad management and bad decisions,” he said.
Many in the crowd expressed admiration for Gingrich but said they were leaning for a different GOP candidate or undecided. But after his speech, Gingrich stepped from the stage into the seating area where he was swarmed by fans who got autographs and posed for pictures. He didn’t take questions from the crowd or press.
Gingrich became the Speaker of the House in 1995, after leading the charge in the 1994 election with his “Contract with America.” That’s when Democratic Speaker of the House Tom Foley of Spokane lost his bid for re-election.
“I became a Republican in 1994 because he inspired me with the ‘Contract with America,’” said Marcisa Waters, of Spokane, who sat in the balcony at Thursday’s rally.
If Gingrich doesn’t win the nomination, Waters said she’ll stick with the GOP in November.
“I will vote for any Tom, Dick or Harry, rather than Obama,” she said.