Gingrich spoke to a 7 p.m. rally at the University of West Georgia Campus Center, not far from the classroom where he once taught history and began his political career in 1974.
He only briefly mentioned a Republican primary opponent by name, but instead leveled most of his attacks at Obama’s energy policy, handling of Mideast diplomacy and economic decisions.
“Our challenge is to put a clear and compelling alternative so the country can tell the difference between our plans and Obama’s,” he told the packed ballroom. “We really need somebody who understands the change we need, has large ideas for leading the country and can explain them to the people.”
Gingrich repeated his pledge that his energy policies would bring gasoline prices back down to $2.50 per gallon. He chided the president for saying there’s “no silver bullet” for bringing gas prices down.
Gingrich said he would counter the high fuel prices by signing the Keystone pipeline pact to bring 700,000 gallons of oil per day from Canada; reopen the Gulf of Mexico for drilling, bringing another 400,000 gallons per day and open up public oil land in Alaska, which would generate 1.2 million gallons per day.
He cited the example of the state of North Dakota, where numerous oil wells have been drilled and the economy is booming.
“The side effect has been creating a huge number of jobs,” he said. “The North Dakota unemployment rate is below 3.5 percent. And that overstates the job situation. There’s 16,000 jobs they can’t fill. If the 3.5 percent had the right skills, there would be no unemployment.”
He said if our country used more new oil drilling, it would not only make us free of Arab domination, it would also generate $16-$18 trillion in revenue to pay off the national debt.
Gingrich blasted the Obama administration’s apology to Afghanistan for U.S. soldiers burning copies of the Koran, the religion’s holy book.
“The president should have said, ‘We discovered that radical Islamics were defiling the Koran by using it to send messages to outside people. We confiscated the Korans they defaced.’”
Gingrich said the president didn’t apologize in 2009 when the U.S. Army confiscated Bibles in Afghanistan and burned them.
“Did Christians react and find somebody to kill?” he said. “No, they accepted it as a really bad decision.”
He added that nobody apologizes because it’s illegal to practice the Christian or Jewish faiths in Saudi Arabia.
“Nobody in this administration is prepared to stand up for our values,” Gingrich said. “However, they’re very prepared to apologize.”
He charged that the Obama administration is so hung up on “political correctness” that it won’t even talk about radical Muslims in its descriptions.
“They arrested a Moroccan man who was trying to bomb the U.S. Capitol,” he said. “Under Obama, the agents couldn’t write down he was an Islamic extremist.
“A president who can’t tell you the truth about the people trying to kill you is a president who can’t develop a strategy to counter the people trying to kill you,” Gingrich added. “Can you imagine if President Truman couldn’t have used the word ‘communist’ when he talked about the Cold War with the Soviet Union?”
Gingrich spoke against the increasing Obama debt, saying that he (Gingrich) was the last speaker of the House to have a balanced budget.
Near the end of the speech, Gingrich said his campaign donations came from more than 170,000 donors, most of whom gave less than $100 each. He added that “Romney can get his from Wall Street and it all comes back to you in his TV ads.”
Gingrich was preceded to podium by former congressmen Bob Barr and Mac Colllins.
“We need somebody in the White House who is proud to say he’s an American and not apologize for something they say in wrong,” Barr said.
Collins said he served with Gingrich during the speaker’s leadership of Congress and told the audience, “I’m glad you’re here supporting Newt for president.”
Gingrich’s daughter, Jackie Sue Gingrich Cushman, recalled her days of living in Carrollton, attending Carrollton High School and helping her father in his early congressional campaigns.
She recalled that in his losing the 1974 and 1976 campaigns, he didn’t complain and didn’t lose faith.
“The next day, we got up and went to the Ford factory, and he shook hands at the shift change and told the workers, ‘Thanks for your help. I’ll be back,’” she said.
Gov. Nathan Deal, who serves as chairman of the state’s Newt 2012 campaign, said, “I’m pleased to be part of this homecoming. He got his start here and he has his roots in this area. I served with Newt in Congress and all of us had good fortune. This has been a long and difficult campaign and we’re very proud to have someone of Newt’s caliber.”
Gingrich said after the rally that Georgia is a “must win” for him in his bid for the White House, the same way Michigan is vital to Romney and Pennsylvania is to Rick Santorum.
Gingrich believes he can win enough delegates in the March 6 Super Tuesday primaries to put his campaign back on track.
He was nearly an hour late arriving at the Carrollton rally, coming through rainy weather from a similar event in Rome. He spent more than an hour, shaking hands and posing for photographs with supporters who paid $50 and more to meet with him, before speaking to the rally.
He will start today with a 9 a.m. meeting at the Capitol in Atlanta, followed by a visit to Peachtree Academy in Covington at 1:30 p.m. and a 7 p.m. rally at the Gainesville Civic Center.
All polls heavily favor Gingrich to win Georgia’s 76 votes, the most up for grabs among the 10 states with primaries or caucuses that day.
Other states holding primaries or caucuses on March 6 include: Alaska, 27 delegates; Idaho, 32; Masschusetts, 41; North Dakota, 28; Ohio, 66; Oklahoma, 43; Tennessee, 58; Vermont, 17; and Virginia, 49. Only Romney and Paul are on the Virginia ballot.
Newt and Callista Gingrich will host a Super Tuesday election day party, starting at 6:30 p.m,, at the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel, 2450 Galleria Parkway, Atlanta.