Walking to the front of the stage, Congressman Tim Scott shouted out, “Good evening.” A weak response from the audience. He then said, “I said, Good evening.” The audience becomes louder with its response and Scott continues with the momentum. “It’s time in America for a new President.”
Scott, a U.S. House Representative for South Carolina’s First Congressional District, was introducing Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and Republican presidential candidate, to students, faculty and members of the community last night in Sottile Theater. The event was packed. While the event was hosted on campus, many members of the audience appeared to be older members of the community who arrived early with less students sitting in seats and more waiting in line outside.
Before answering questions submitted by event guests upon entry as well as questions submitted prior to the event on either Facebook or Timstownhalls.com, Gingrich made a few opening remarks. He took an approach to his speech, which featured American citizens as the individuals with power and politicians as subjects to the people.
“You are personally sovereign. No politician, no judge can take away your rights… In America, you are a citizen and the government is subject to you.”
Immediately after his remarks about empowering the people, Gingrich established the differences between himself and President Barack Obama. During the event, Gingrich steered away from bashing other Republican presidential candidates and focused his attention on what he believed was Obama’s faults.
He particularly questioned Obama’s patriotism and loyalty to the United States. He said, “President Obama sided with Mexico. I will side with South Carolina. Obama sided with Argentina. I will side with South Carolina. I’ll just give you the list.” The audience then erupted with applause and he continued to read of the list.
He continued to say that he believed the role of the president is to be commander-in-chief, defending the United States. He accused Obama of breaking this duty by siding with foreigners against the people. He said, “It makes you wonder what country he is president of.”
Throughout his speech, and even during the question and answer session, Gingrich repeatedly told the audience America needed to rethink its policies and processes. He was asked questions revolving around education, healthcare, energy, torture, the economy, illegal immigration, reforming Social Security and Medicare. He was even asked if he had anyone in mind for his running mate. He replied, “You’re certainly on the short list, Tim.”
While Gingrich took the majority of his speaking time answering the questions about illegal immigration and healthcare, he did bring back the topic of individual rights repeatedly when answering questions. For example, he said the United States needed to rethink the process of dealing with legislation. He said he wanted to simplify
bills and add more accountability through transparency. In order to achieve this, he advocated airing all committee conferences on C-SPAN. Not only would this create transparency, it would better educate American citizens on certain subject matter.
He also said he wanted fewer, shorter laws with bureaucrats who possessed less dominance, which would give back power to the people. He said, “There are no good bills at page 2,600.”
Another topic he focused his attention on dealt with illegal immigration. He compared the issue to FedEx and UPS packages. He said he did not understand how UPS has the capability to easily track packages while they were moving, but the government “can’t find them while they are sitting still.” His light-hearted solution: “Send them all a package, and then we’ll know where they all are.”
He went on saying he wanted to establish English as the official language and make deportation easier. However, he also said the legal visa system should be made easier to access and cheaper. He said the United States is losing an opportunity to bring positive benefits to the American economy and society with the current visa programs because it was inadequate, inefficient and outdated. He advocated for a fairer, more secure system, and mentioned going back to a WWII selective service model where local citizens would establish residency of illegal immigrants.
Gingrich found not only illegal immigrants to blame, but even U.S. citizens. He said, “Remember, there is no illegal worker without an illegal employer.”
Another question Gingrich focused his attention dealt with what he called “ObamaCare.” He made it clear he did not support the current system and said,
“I’ve never asked anyone to be for me. I ask you to be with me… Once we win the White House we can begin to do away with ObamaCare.”
He said once Obama was out, he’d ask Congress to repeal “ObamaCare” and when sworn into office, he’d gladly sign the legislation. According to Gingrich, the easiest step to better reform can be found in litigation reform, which would lower the cost of healthcare.
From a Student’s Perspective
While Gingrich went on to speak about other topics such as Social Security and Medicare reform, saying that people shop better for themselves than bureaucrats shopping for them, at the end of the event, he turned his focus to students. He said college students are often sold short. He said this generation is suffering from a “weak period of political leadership” but that “we are the wealthiest, most extraordinary society in the history of the human race… but we need to come back to the roots of who we are.”
Many of the students at the event appeared to be Republicans. Matt Altman, freshmen and member of the campus group College Republicans, said he enjoyed seeing Gingrich’s sense of humor. When Altman met Gingrich at the end of the event, he went up to the former Speaker and said, “Hello future President Gingrich. I’m future Senator Altman.” Unlike the several chuckles Gingrich received during his speech, Altman received a chuckle from Gingrich.
Altman said that although he was initially for Mitt Romney, hearing Gingrich has made him second-guess. He said he particularly liked his ideas involving illegal immigration.
Senior Brooke Sensenig, also from College Republicans and president of the group, was also pleased with Gingrich’s speech. She said, “I thought he did a really good job breaking it down and he was really down to Earth.”
However, not all students completely supported the Republican presidential candidate. Elliott Wright, junior and Student Body President, said he didn’t agree with all of his policies. Although, Wright said he was pleased to see that Gingrich was “one of the more articulate and eloquent candidates, much more than his other [competitors].”
Regardless of political affiliation, Gingrich said students, in addition to the rest of American society, will see a better future. In closing remarks, Gingrich said, “We will be back. We will rebuild the country we love… You ain’t seen nothing yet.”