MANCHESTER, N.H. – Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said today that he will be “doing a lot of grassroots things and developing a lot of ideas,’’ in an attempt to revive a campaign suffering from debt and an early exodus of major campaign advisers.
But while Gingrich is quick to talk about ideas, any grassroots campaigning in New Hampshire is being done away from the eyes of much of the media on this visit.
Gingrich is spending today and tomorrow in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and has six radio show appearances lined up. His only publicized New Hampshire campaign stop with any voter contact was a tour of Spectrum Marketing Companies, a direct mail and marketing company whose clients include numerous Republican politicians.
Spokesman R.C. Hammond said Gingrich may do another business visit tomorrow. Otherwise, Gingrich is meeting privately with activists and business leaders. He said he met voters at a diner this morning – but the media received no notice.
Asked about Gingrich’s grassroots activism, Hammond pointed to public events Gingrich did on previous trips, including a town hall meeting on health care in Derry, a meeting with Tea Party activists in Dover, and a meet and greet at a Conway cafe.
Gingrich finished the recent fundraising quarter $1 million in debt, with just $322,000 cash on hand. Much of his top staff resigned early on, and Gingrich is relying on volunteers to organize political outreach and campaign visits in New Hampshire and elsewhere.
Yet Gingrich said he believes his campaign will have a “genuine impact’’ in Iowa and New Hampshire because of the substantive ideas he is proposing. “The difference in substance and difference in experience will make a difference by January,’’ Gingrich told reporters in Manchester. He pledged, “You’ll see me here a lot just as you’ll see me in Iowa a lot.’’
Gingrich said he believes he will attract support from the Tea Party through a “10th amendment enforcement act.’’ Hammond said that refers to an initiative to have citizens identify areas like education or health care where the federal government is overreaching. Republicans promoted a similar concept in 1996, when Gingrich was speaker, through legislation ensuring the federal government does not infringe on states’ rights.
Gingrich also suggested health initiatives focusing on brain science, regenerative medicine, and diabetes. He has said Congress should repeal the Dodd-Frank bill, President Obama’s reform of the financial industry.
“I’ll rely on a strategy of substance and the notion that this country is in very deep trouble,’’ Gingrich said. He pointed specifically to the problems of China outpacing the United States in science, technology, and manufacturing; the erosion of American exceptionalism; and the lack of a strategy for dealing with radical Islam. He said Washington has failed to solve the economic problems, and “there’s a very real danger we’re going to have a second dip’’ of the recession.
In the current impasse between President Obama and Congress over raising the debt ceiling, Gingrich said House Republicans are missing an opportunity to pass numerous potential solutions and force Senate Democrats to vote on them. Gingrich proposed increasing oil and gas exploration offshore and on federal lands, and raising the debt ceiling by $200 billion in exchange for getting that additional revenue.
“They have every right to say to the president ‘here are five different ways of solving the problem, are you going to force America to default?’ ’’ Gingrich said. “If you are, we’ll have the Obama depression plus the Obama default.’’