They’re always late
That truism told me by a reporter about political candidates may be about all that I found in common between my experience last year when I saw Michele Bachmann speak at the Beacon Drive In and today when I got to hear Newt Gingrich at the same upstate South Carolina landmark.
The Bachmann appearance was more a pep rally than anything. Gingrich actually conveyed a message and an argument. Invoking the name of Ronald Reagan, Gingrich invited his listeners to think back to an earlier time of greater prosperity and low unemployment. He credited his leadership as Speaker of the House of Representatives for a balanced budget, the creation of millions of jobs and the Republican’s sweep in Congressional elections.
Gingrich argued that he could go “head to head” debating Barack Obama1 and show clear ideological differences, contrasting Romney whom he called a “moderate” not clearly distinguishable from Obama. Gingrich said that he was the only conservative that could defeat Romney. Overall, Gingrich’s talk was full of facts, figures and examples from history. Whether you agree with him or not, at least it’s clear what he proposes to do.
Because he was running so late, Gingrich only took two questions. In one response he decried “judge after judge who are are anti-religious bigots” and pointed the questioner to his web site’s paper on “rebalancing the courts.” (I wasn’t able to locate the paper, but did find a section on the judiciary in his 21th Century Contract with America.) He said that there was “room under the Cross” for everyone to find protection from oppressive government.
In response to the second question (which I couldn’t hear) Gingrich advocated the repeal of “ObamaCare” (no surprise), repeal of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and surprisingly the repeal of Sarbanes-Oxley (Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act) – describing the latter two as burdensome regulation. I’m familiar with Sarbanes-Oxley, having implemented it as a corporate executive in a previous life. That law was put in place to prevent the abuses that came to light in a string of corporate accounting scandals including WorldCom and Enron.
I got the chance to shake hands with Gingrich as he arrived accompanied by his wife and the crowd shouting “Newt! Newt! Newt!” and I found his grip fleshy and weak, but not sweaty or cold. Unfortunately for me, even though I had a 5th row seat, late arriving members of the press set up cameras in front of the Gingrich so that large parts of the audience could not even glimpse him as he spoke. I snapped the photo above as he came in. The article’s revised title comes from the chant from the crowd as Speaker Gingrich entered the room.
Audio file (includes comments not in the video)
1Head-to-head: Having seen both the Speaker and the President in person, I got the impression that Barack Obama was considerably taller than average, and that Gingrich was considerably shorter. In fact, Gingrich is 6 feet tall and Obama is just one inch taller at 6-1.