The former House speaker reminded the crowd that the race for president isn’t the only one that matters next year. He called for “a team campaign” in which Republicans should pick up 12 new seats in the U.S. Senate and another 30 to 40 in the House.
“We want to win it as a team,” Mr. Gingrich said.
Mr. Gingrich is a man without a campaign at this stage in the race for the Republican presidential nomination after most of his top aides quit en masse last week amid acrimony about the direction of his bid.
And the Republican idea man seemed OK with that as he addressed the crowd for about 45 minutes Thursday night, ticking off one bold, potentially unworkable policy prescription after another. Some were originals, others borrowed from his Republican rivals for the nomination and others were priorities he shares with others in the field.
Mr. Gingrich called for an audit of the Federal Reserve, echoing Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian icon who is also running for the nomination. To put a finer point on it, Mr. Gingrich said the Fed should no longer concern itself with unemployment and just focus on bolstering the dollar.
He also reiterated his call for dropping the corporate tax rate to 12.5% from the current 35% rate, a shade lower than the rate former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty proposed in his own blueprint for the economy. Like Mr. Pawlenty, the former House speaker also laid out an economic blueprint earlier this year that would eliminate taxes on capital gains and inheritance. He highlighted both planks again on Thursday.
He also called for repealing the new regulations on financial markets, as well as corporate governance rules Republicans approved after the Enron and WorldCom accounting scandals.
Freed of the expectations of a traditional campaign, Mr. Gingrich seemed to relish his role as intellectual force. He lashed out at federal judges, vowing to eliminate the entire U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the bane of conservatives for decades. He also promised, if elected, he would sign as many as 200 executive orders in his first hour as president. His campaign is even launching function on its website, calling “On the First Day,” soliciting ideas for everyday Americans to pitch their own ideas for new executive orders.
Of course, this being Newt Gingrich, he has plenty of his own ideas. His first four executive orders: eliminate all the White House czars, reinstate Reagan-era prohibitions on abortion funding overseas, insure medical professionals aren’t required to perform procedures that violate their religious beliefs and move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
President Barack Obama was the focus of his wide-ranging speech. He blamed the president for much of the country’s economic ills – joblessness, swooning home prices, the high cost of gas – and likened him to a European socialist.