Gingrich gaining ground in home state
by Ray Henry
Associated Press Writer
April 17, 2011 12:00 AM | 1306 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is greeted with a standing ovation as he walks into the Historic Courthouse on Saturday in Lawrenceville.<br>The Associated Press
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is greeted with a standing ovation as he walks into the Historic Courthouse on Saturday in Lawrenceville.
The Associated Press
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ROSWELL - Republican Newt Gingrich tried winning over social conservatives Saturday in his old home state of Georgia, where he called for restrictions on abortion funding and requiring that students study religious references in the Declaration of Independence.

He also supported recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Gingrich's back-to-back stump speeches in north Georgia come as the former House Speaker raises money for a possible presidential run. He expects to make a decision early next month on whether to enter the race. Although Gingrich has not lived in Georgia for more than a decade, he came to Atlanta last month to announce the start of his fundraising effort and spent Saturday rehearsing in front of mostly friendly crowds.

"How many of you volunteered on one of my campaigns at some point?" Gingrich asked a crowd in Roswell, which included many of his former constituents. Dozens of hands went up. "Well, you may have a chance to do it again in the very near future."

Between signing books, shaking hands and posing for photographs, Gingrich previewed what could become campaign promises to social conservatives - a key constituency if he wants to win the Republican nomination. In preparing a run, Gingrich must quell potential criticism over his messy personal life, which includes three marriages and an admission of infidelity.

During his first speech in Lawrenceville, Gingrich said a Republican elected president next year - he didn't specifically offer himself - could sign a series of executive orders on his first day in office that abolish so-called federal policy tsars, ban taxpayers from paying for abortions as part of foreign aid and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

"We recognize that the only stable democracy in the Middle East deserves some respect," Gingrich said, drawing applause.

In another promise to social conservatives, Gingrich said every state Legislature should require that public school students be taught annually about the Declaration of Independence, particularly its 18th-century invocation of rights endowed by the "Creator."

"I challenge the ACLU to explain why it is inappropriate to teach that our founding political document says that our rights come from our Creator, and that teachers ought to be able to explain what the word 'Creator' means as a matter of historic accuracy and understanding America," Gingrich said.

He urged that the United States allow more drilling for offshore oil. He targeted social-assistance programs, saying residents of government-subsidized housing should be required to do maintenance and that unemployed workers should be enrolled in job training programs to get public money.

"It's wrong to give people money to subsidize them for doing nothing," Gingrich said. "We're not giving you money for 99 weeks while you sit and wait."

Gingrich gave a wide-ranging critique of the Obama administration, including its handling of military strikes against the forces of Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi. He said he supported abolishing the capital gains and estate taxes and lowering the corporate income tax rate. Gingrich said businesses should get more aggressive tax breaks for buying new equipment.

Local Republicans had mixed reactions to Gingrich as a potential presidential candidate.

"He's got a problem," said Jeanette Bean, 70, of Snellville who listened to Gingrich's first address. "I love him dearly, but he's got baggage. He's got too much baggage, I think, to be elected. Women, wives, mistresses."

Trudy and Jefferson Davis of Roswell asked Gingrich to autograph one of his books after his speech in Roswell. Both said they view Gingrich favorably, although they would also consider voting for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump.

In particular, they supported Gingrich's call for more offshore oil drilling. Trudy Davis said she believed Gingrich's personal problems appear to be behind him.

"He's pretty much walked the walk since he talked the talk all those years ago," she said.

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