Newt Gingrich sought to hammer home the idea that he’s the anti-establishment candidate Friday, rehashing familiar themes from his stump speeches before his audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
“For the Republican establishment, managing the decay is preferable to changing the trajectory because changing the trajectory requires real fights and a real willingness to roll up sleeves and actually take on the left,” Gingrich said.
Pointing to the 1996 and 2008 election years, the former House speaker forcefully argued the Republican establishment can’t win a presidential election.
“They don’t have the toughness, they don’t have the commitment, and they don’t have the philosophy necessary to grow a majority in this country,” he said.
He boasted his conservative bona fides following a speech on the same stage Friday by opponent Rick Santorum, who charged ahead of Gingrich in the GOP horse race this week with three big wins in the Republican nominating process, followed by a major fundraising boost and surging poll numbers.
Mitt Romney, a candidate criticized by the far right as being the establishment’s choice in the GOP presidential field, also spoke before Gingrich Friday.
But Gingrich made no attempt to attack his opponents, focusing instead on outlining his platform and striking a chord with his CPAC audience, a crowd known for its strongly conservative turnout.
Tapping into the recent fervor against a federal rule requiring religious affiliated employers to include contraception coverage–a policy the White House announced Friday it would retract–Gingrich used his moment on stage to charge the president with dividing the country.
“This administration is waging war on religion. But so are the courts. This is why we need a movement that’s bigger than just beating Obama,” he said.
Gingrich won big cheers when he called for the repeal of President Obama’s sweeping health care reform, as well as the financial reform bill signed in 2010.
The former speaker also presented his energy plans and economic ideas, part of which call for an end to the estate tax and a 12.5% corporate tax rate.
And while he laid out nearly his entire platform in the almost half-hour speech, Gingrich refrained from touching on his space plans, policies he has frequently touted in recent weeks.
“My goal, with your help, is that by the time President Obama lands in Chicago, we will have repudiated at least 40 percent of his government on the opening day,” Gingrich said.