Newt Goes to the Hilltop, Turns Stump Speech Into Civics Lesson
Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, came to Georgetown University March 28, the day after he cut his campaign staff by a third and spoke to a crowd of well-mannered students at Gaston Hall.
In a seemingly new phase of his campaign, Gingrich was forceful, relaxed, passionate and academic -- and still under Secret Service protection. He behaved as a happy warrior of ideas transformed into a 21st-century thought leader, as they say in seminars, ready to speak with anyone. Before the speech, he spoke to student journalists about his "steamlined," not suspended, campaign, according to the Georgetown Voice.
After citing the dysfunctional political life in this "imperial capital," Gingrich said, "I have not done a very good job as a candidate."
Nevertheless, Gingrich lit into his list of America's best ideas and achievements. He took students and others in the university's historic hall through parts of his stump speech that became a lesson on history, civics and sensibility. He paid homage and mind to America's versions of value, innovation and exceptionalism.
Drawing first on the very American stories of Captain John Smith at Jamestown and the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, Gingrich exhorted all to solve the problems of our times, as Americans have in the past. We are "smart by doing something, not by tenure."
He invoked the name of Abraham Lincoln. Read the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address slowly, he softly advised.
Gingrich also ran through an array of improvements to make America better, smarter that made sense to him on the following: a restrained judiciary, Social Security, neurological research, government efficiency, respect for a higher power and more.
"Ideas matter," he said, "for people . . . and for reporters." The former House Speaker said he fights the threats of those overly secular and cynical and discerns the "denseness of Washington that resists innovation."
During the question-and-answer period, a student, who had been a janitor, said he had felt insulted by Gingrich's remarks about janitors from months ago. The candidate replied that his daughters had been janitors at his church. Another asked Gingrich, "Why aren't politicians like you?"